TikTok generation: Shaping the education and career aspirations of Gen Z

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Key takeaways

  • There’s more to TikTok than dance routines and home improvement videos. For Gen Z, TikTok provides a platform for them to realize their dreams.
  • However, social media isn’t always helpful to those just finding their feet in the workplace. Some 28% have been disciplined for their social media activity, while 11% have faced issues at work due to misinformation they heard on the platform.
  • The problem is, many young people don’t do enough to fact-check the information they hear, with 47% relying on follower counts to determine whether someone is trustworthy.

For Gen Z, social media platforms are a way of life. The average young person spends 25% of their time awake scrolling through social media — but they’re not just wasting their time talking to strangers and watching funny videos. They’re using it to learn, grow, and create.

Whether searching for a platform to pursue their dreams of becoming internet famous, a treasure trove of knowledge to get through their studies, or a career coach to help them decide what to do with the rest of their lives… young people today put a lot of faith in TikTok.

EduBirdie surveyed 2,000 young people in the US on how social media has shaped their career choices and affected their professional lives. The results show that as much as social media can help young people to succeed, it can also hinder their future if used incorrectly.

Do what you love: The TikTok generation’s desire for social media stardom

51% of genz believes becoming a tik tok star is a viable career

For Gen Z, TikTok is much more than a hobby. It’s a one-way ticket to escape the dull corporate office. Having grown up watching others build their small followings into global fame, more than half believe that becoming a social media celebrity is a viable long-term career. 

just 29% of gen z seek social media followers for fame

But this young generation isn’t fame-hungry. In fact, fame only matters to 14% of Generation Z. Rather, they’ve seen the pictures of social media stars jetting off on private jets to far-flung destinations and they want some of that freedom for themselves. For 31%, flexibility is the biggest reward for social media success, closely followed by the lucrative earnings it unlocks.

30% of genz doubt they will be as successful as tiktoks biggest names

But all that freedom is only enjoyed by the top 1% and there are over 50 million personalities trying to reach the top. They can’t all achieve stardom and 30% don’t believe they ever will. Yet, 43% remain confident they can master the algorithms and amass millions of followers — but they’ll have to work hard for it.

44% of genz have felt down after comparing themselves to tiktok stars

While social media’s biggest names inspire many young people, that’s not the case for everyone. With their favorite creators flaunting the celebrity lifestyle in every snap and video, 44% of Gen Z have felt down after comparing themselves to TikTok stars.

Scrolling to success: TikTok, Gen Z’s go-to career counselor

70% of genz turn to tiktok for career advice

Many young people don’t want to be TikTok famous, but the video-sharing platform still plays a vital role in their career progression. In fact, 70% of Gen Z have scrolled through TikTok in search of career advice. 

46% of genz admit tiktok influenced their choice of profession

Who do you turn to when you’re unsure what to do with the rest of your life? A teacher? Parents? TikTok and other social platforms. Generation Z isn’t just turning to social media to help them navigate the adult world. They’re letting it decide which path they should take, with 46% admitting TikTok influenced their choice of career.

48% of genz believes using tiktok has benfited their careers

Among the corny dances, fashion hauls and home transformation videos, TikTok seemingly has some pretty good career advice to offer. Some 23% thank the social media platform for getting their foot on the career ladder, while 25% say it helped put a little extra money in their pockets each month.

Laid off for likes: Is TikTok a bad influence in the workplace?

28% got in trouble at work for somehting they posted online

Social media can help you to land a role, and it can also help you to lose it. Every little thing you post is there for everyone to see — bosses included. Just ask the 13% of Gen Z that have lost a job due to something they shared online.

55% of genz got into trouble due to misinformation on tiktok

It isn’t just what you post that can cause you issues, but also what you watch. Some 11% of Gen Z have gotten into trouble at work for repeating information they learned from a TikTok expert that wasn’t entirely true. They may have the confidence and follower count to seem convincing, but when anyone can post anything they want — factual or not — they will (especially if it will score them some views).

The TikTok search engine: A reliable learning tool or a platform of lies?

71% of genz believes tiktok is trustworthy source of knowledge

Forget about Google — Young people are using TikTok as a search engine. Despite 55% of Gen Z having faced issues due to misinformation they heard on social media, 71% remain convinced that it's a trustworthy source of knowledge, with 19% even throwing their textbooks aside and turning to TikTok to help them study.

57% of genz believe tiktok is an effective learning tool

Some 57% of Gen Z believe that TikTok is an effective learning tool and they’re not wrong. There are plenty of trustworthy educational TikTok accounts to follow and it’s estimated that 65% of people are visual learners, so an engaging video can really help to get a point across — but that doesn’t mean that point is factual.

47% of genz judge a persons expertise based on their tiktok following

So how do you know whether the information in a TikTok is true? You just have to look at the user’s follower count, duh… At least, that’s how 47% of Gen Z judge a person’s expertise. 

If you’re wondering how to search on TikTok, perhaps you should reconsider asking Gen Z for help if you want information you can trust…

42% of genz fact check the information they learned on tiktok

If they don’t have a high follower count, a lot of likes will do instead, and 42% will believe the information simply because the person posting it seems trustworthy. That’s as far as fact checking goes for 58% of the TikTok generation, so it’s really no surprise that misinformation is causing them problems in their personal and professional lives.

36% of genz consider abandoning theur education to become a tiktok star

But what does it matter if everything they’ve learned is incorrect? Convinced that the internet can provide, 36% of Gen Z are considering ditching traditional education and career paths in search of online fame anyway, and you don’t need a fancy degree or a mind full of knowledge to earn millions of likes and followers.

Methodology: To create this study, researchers from EduBirdie surveyed 2,000 people in the US within the Generation Z demographic. Participants within this age group were invited to share their experiences at random with no focus on particular genders, ethnicities, or backgrounds.

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