EngagePerspectivesTikTok Boom – Reflections on Penn Screening
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TikTok Boom – Reflections on Penn Screening

Film screening prompts conversation about Gen-Z’ers as the first fully digital generation and the impact of social media on mental health, politics, and unintended ramifications of new tech.

The film screening and meet-the-Director event reached about 50 thoughtful and energized participants. In addition to the screening of the award-winning documentary TikTok, Boom, the question-and-answer session proved to be immensely engaging. A big topic that came up after the screening was the role of “Gen-Z’ers,” as the first fully digital generation, to responsibly employ and deploy social media in order to maximize its benefits and minimize its negative effects.

During the conversation, one student pointedly observed that most of the technological developments since the early 2000s have been largely deleterious to mental health. Another student observed the ways in which platforms like TikTok have democratized politics, giving young people who would be voiceless otherwise an opportunity to express themselves. Some of the conversation also drifted to aspects of the AI algorithms and how corporations funding the App were controlling populations by manipulating the technology. Multiple students also stayed back to talk about the art of filmmaking, which was refreshing for the Director, Ms. Kantayya, and also for those from Cinema and Media Studies. One student was especially interested in her story as an Asian-American director. Several students and faculty were deeply impressed with Ms. Kantayya’s assiduous craftsmanship in making a documentary that told a narrative without overwhelming it with her own voice. Overall, this was a deeply satisfying event and we are grateful to Shalini Kantayya, her staff, and all of Penn’s programs and departments who generously supported the program, including the Penn SNF Paideia Program, the Department of Asian-American Studies, the Cinema Studies Program, the Fine Arts Department, and the College Houses and Academic Programming division under the Vice-Provost of University Life.

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