Millions of US teenagers locked in their homes and receiving their education online are mutually turning to moral support and comic relief through hugely popular video sharing apps like TikTok.
The social media platform is owned by China's ByteDance and has raised national security concerns in Washington over fears about how data about US users is collected and shared.
But for high schoolers, TikTok is just a way to share their stories. In 2019, TikTok said it had over 26 million monthly active users in the U.S., more than half of whom were between 16 and 24 years old.
Users post videos that can take up to 60 seconds and appear in quick feeds on phones. While many TikToks are lighthearted – dancing or lip syncing with trendy songs is a common theme – they can also deal with more serious problems.
Some users say that the app – and others like it, like Snapchat – lets them know that other people are going through the same things as they are and relaxing and laughing at it. The corona virus and the forced school holidays – called "coronacation" – are the biggest trend topic at TikTok.
"How the 2020 class will graduate," jokes user @dannyrvbio about a video that shows an emoji of a student walking on a digital stage. In another popular TikTok title, "I pretended my screen was frozen because I didn't do my project for my online class," @zizzysizzle stutters as if she had connection problems during a fake video Explanation to her teacher about the stock market crash in the 1930s.
Advice to others on how to chat during quarantine or how to be safe. The World Health Organization has its own @who TikTok, whose experts explain the virus and its effects on young people in short clips.
"TikTok really helped me get through these weeks," said 17-year-old Alison Kenny, a high school student in the New York suburbs. "It's frustrating to get stuck and feel trapped … it's nice to know that you're not alone and that people fight just like you."