If you think your kid is on their phone too much, they may agree.
A recent art aesthetic on TikTok, known as “corecore,” has become a nod to screen addiction and social media’s impact on young people’s mental health. Many of the videos have gotten millions of views and forced viewers to grapple with uncomfortable feelings.
Corecore videos combine cinematography, movie clips, quotes and pictures along with speeches and music. They’re intended to make the viewer feel a very specific way.
It’s working, too. Corecore videos draw in millions of viewers, and they’re shedding light on the impacts of screen time and social media as a young person.
In one of the most watched TikTok corecore videos, released at the start of the new year, the viewer is inundated with scenes of frantic scrolling through TikTok videos before the chaos comes to a halt and the words “WAKE UP” appear across the screen. It goes on to pick up quotes and lines from experts discussing the dangers of technology and social media.
Some loved the message in the video — others were just more depressed because of it.
“Corecore (is) so good at talking about the problem without actually mentioning it,” one person said.
“Wake up, school, work, homework, sleep,” another said. “TikTok is the only thing that stops me from thinking about how mundane life is.”
The creator of the video had a different perspective, though.
“In my opinion, TikTok is what’s making your life FEEL mundane (which is not the case),” they said.
Corecore is a wider aesthetic
The concept of “core” videos is not new. Many different aesthetics, or “cores” have captivated people online including cottagecore, gothcore, normcore and kidcore. Corecore is a wider expanse of those aesthetics in an attempt to make the viewer feel whatever specific message the creator is trying to display.
“I’m just afraid I’m going to get used to corecore videos and become apathetic again,” one person commented about the videos.
Nearly 70% of teens have used TikTok and 16% of those say they use the app “almost constantly,” according to a 2022 Pew Research study. Thirty-six percent of teens said that they felt they were on social media too much.
“In short, yes, social media can have negative consequences for our mental health,” Jessica Holzbauer, a licensed clinical social worker at Huntsman Mental Health Institute, said in an interview. “The younger generation grew up with social media and the ability to see anything, anytime, anywhere. Our ability to tolerate the distress of waiting has been eroded because we can Google the answer to almost any question.”
Other corecore videos rely heavily on small moments that millions of people can relate to, including one made by @anachronism showing a person lying in a bed watching someone else on their phone relish the joy of being alive.
“We’re alive! I love waking up and going to work and coming home to sleep and waking up and going to work and coming home to sleep and waking up to go...” one viewer commented.
“Breath in, breath out,” another encouraged. “Keep taking life one day at a time, you’ll make it one step at a time.”
Topics like capitalism, greed, depression, social status, fear of climate change and relationships come up in corecore TikToks, too, hinting at shared struggles some youth face.
Social media versus real life
If a young person appears to be “disinterested in life,” talking about not wanting to live or acting differently, it may be linked to the impacts of social media, according to the Huntsman Mental Health Institute.
“If your child is starting to focus too much of their attention on social media at the expense of real-life interactions, parents should be concerned,” Holzbauer said. “At the very least, this should spark a conversation about the behaviours to ensure there aren’t more serious issues going on like bullying, anxiety, or other issues.”
The Hunstman Mental Health Institute recommends these tips when navigating social media with children:
– Understand how the apps work.
– Understand that all social media is “an advertisement of one’s self”.
– Create a plan for what media to use when.
– Have an honest conversation with your teen — and listen to what they have to say.
– Model positive social media behaviour.
– Set non-negotiable limits on social media use.
The institute recommends teens establish a healthy social media presence these ways:
– Delete the social media apps from your phone for a break.
– Leave devices at home.
–Disable your notifications.
– Limit time.
– Don’t post when emotions are high. – The Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service