Harnessing the power of new media for good: Using TikTok as a tool for social justice and social work education


  • Shanna K. Kattari University of Denver
  • eli hess Portland State University


social media, practice, education, student, faculty


Social media and other forms of new media are constantly emerging, from the forums and chat rooms of the 1990s, to Myspace and Facebook in the 2000s, to Instagram and Twitter in the 2010s. One of the more recent forms of new media is TikTok, a Chinese app that hit the United States in late 2016 before catapulting to popularity in 2018. This article is a conversation between high-profile TikTok creator and MSW student AUTHOR 2 and social work assistant professor and TikTok creator AUTHOR 1 about the myriad ways that TikTok has been and can be used for educational purposes. They specifically address using TikTok both to teach students in formal social work programs and to engage the masses around topics related to social justice. In their conversation, the Authors reflect on how they came to this method of social justice education and pose questions about the utility of this approach. Topics of discussion include: the personal impact of using TikTok, professional and personal challenges, and ways that TikTok content can be used in social work education and social work practice.

Author Biography

Shanna K. Kattari, University of Denver

Shanna Katz Kattari, M.Ed. is a doctoral student at the University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work, as well as a board certified sexologist and experienced sexuality educator. Her research focuses on examining sexuality in marginalized communities, particularly LGBTQ individuals & people with disabilities. She is also interested in understanding how power, privilege and oppression play roles in systematically marginalizing, excluding, discriminating against and shaming people around their sexual identities/expressions through negative attitudes, policies reinforcing oppression, and isolation.




How to Cite

Kattari, S. K., & hess, eli. (2023). Harnessing the power of new media for good: Using TikTok as a tool for social justice and social work education. Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping, 28(3), 81–95. Retrieved from https://reflectionsnarrativesofprofessionalhelping.org/index.php/Reflections/article/view/1932



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