TikTok as an Educational Platform: Teenagers’ Experiences


  • Zinaida Adelhardt Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2296-7995
  • Thomas Eberle Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg




TikTok use, academic potential of TikTok, teenagers’ use of social media, educational platform, addictive behaviour


TikTok as social media in general has a controversial reputation and its academic potential is not much explored. Nowadays TikTok is extremely popular among teenagers for entertainment purposes and its popularity is constantly growing. The platform’s short-length videos are delivering small and easily digestible pieces of information that are potentially suitable for attracting and capturing student attention. They deliver information in a concise manner, which could be useful for various school subjects. The aim of our study is to find out whether teenagers use the platform for education and how they evaluate the platform’s academic potential. We asked 34 teenagers (M=15.59, SD=1.76, 59% female), who attend various grammar schools in Germany, about their use of TikTok and their perception of the platform’s educational potential. The results show that those teenagers who use TikTok also consume school-relevant content from the platform, such as learning methods, physical explanations, mathematical tricks, astronomy and biology facts. Those who consider the platform helpful for learning highlight two main reasons: the speed and ease of access to information and the brief and easy-to-understand content. However, the teenagers also point out two main problems regarding the use of TikTok for learning: its high level of distraction and the absence of information about sources. Though the majority consider the platform as a purely entertaining medium, 44% of teenagers think that it can be used both for entertainment and education. 29% of teenagers consider TikTok to have a potential to be a supplementary educational medium. Teenagers suggested the following improvements for TikTok to make it more effective as an educational tool: mark credible sources and reliable information, create separate space for learning for instance through filters or special settings, create more reliable educational content, make the platform safer and less distractive. The captivating nature of TikTok is a double-edged sword: it can spark interest in complicated topics, but it also tends to draw attention to irrelevant content. The results and limitations of the study are presented in the article.

Author Biographies

Zinaida Adelhardt, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg

Dr. Zinaida Adelhardt is a research fellow at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany and leads the media withdrawal project. She earned her doctoral degree from Leipzig University, where her thesis focused on the identity construction of teenagers on social networking sites.

Thomas Eberle, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Prof. Dr. Thomas Eberle leads the "Classroom under Sails" project and oversees multiple research units at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany. His doctoral thesis examined media use among adolescents, while his habilitation focused on experiential outdoor learning.