Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Reuters/Wikimedia Commons
K.S., a 14-year-old girl The Daily Beast is identifying by her initials to protect her privacy, was 12 years old when she first downloaded TikTok, a video app all her friends seemed to be newly hooked on. It was early 2020, and once COVID-19 hit, K.S. found herself with little to do besides engage as best she could with remote learning—“Remote school is a joke,” she told The Daily Beast—and spend her free time scrolling through the app.
K.S. is a sports-obsessed kid who thrived playing soccer and basketball, but as her time on TikTok increased, her demeanor changed, says her mother, who we’re calling K.R.
“She’s always been a high-achieving, well-adjusted, independent child,” K.R. told The Daily Beast. “I would always joke and call her my princess warrior. I started to notice a change in her behavior around the fall of 2021, when I saw a little bit of a change in her eating habits. She was asking for some food items that would really be used in more of a medically supervised diet.