Posts tagged with "tiktok"

Contest: Meditation app Calm seeks TikTok story narrator with the ‘smoothest voice’

May 10, 2022

Calm, a meditation and wellness app, is looking for a voice that puts people to sleep, reports CNBC.

And it’s hoping to find that voice on TikTok. The company recently posted a video on the social media platform announcing its Next Voice of Calm Contest, which will select the entrant with the most soothing voice to record one of Calm’s upcoming 60-second Sleep Stories. The winner also will receive $5,000.

“We’re looking for TikTok’s smoothest voice,” Erik Braa, one of Calm’s current Sleep Story narrators, intones in the video.

To enter, interested participants need to post a 60-second or less TikTok stitched to Calm’s contest announcement video. In your minute-long entry, you can read aloud basically anything: “A grocery list, your last text or a made-up story,” Braa says. “As long as it’s original and oh-so-soothing.”

More than 350 million people have listened to Calm’s Sleep Stories, according to the company, making this a potentially huge opportunity for the winner. Other Sleep Stories on Calm’s platform have been narrated by celebrities like Harry Styles, Pink. and LeBron James.

Like many mental health apps, Calm experienced an influx of new users during the pandemic: It was the world’s most downloaded app in April 2020, with nearly 4 million downloads globally that month, according to intelligence firm Sensory Tower. Calm attained a $2 billion valuation in December 2020, following a $75 million fundraising round.

More recently, the global mental health app industry as a whole—which was valued at $4.2 billion last year, according to a Grand View Research report—has come under fire for not actually improving the mental wellbeing of most users. A January study published in PLOS Digital Health, a healthcare research platform, found there was no “convincing evidence in support of any mobile phone-based intervention.”

But according to Calm, its Sleep Stories might actually work. In an October 2021 study conducted by Jennifer Huberty, the company’s director of science, a majority of participants reported that “using Calm helped them fall asleep, stay asleep and get restful sleep.” Most of those participants struggled with sleep disturbances, and nearly half had a mental health diagnosis, according to the study.

Other mental health app critics have raised ethical concerns around how mental health and meditation apps share user information: One study, published in the journal Internet Interventions in 2019, found those less than 50% of apps targeting depression had any privacy policy.

The privacy policy on Calm’s website states that it collects personal user information from inside its app and third-party platforms. Calm did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It’s request for comment.

The Next Voice of Calm Contest closes on May 13, and the winner will be announced on June 7, with their Sleep Story anticipated to publish on Calm’s app this fall. Entrants are only allowed one submission each and must be at least 18 years old. They also must be legal residents and living in the United States or the United Kingdom.

Research contact: @CNBC

What lies beneath: Long nails may not be as hygienic as you hope

May 4, 2022

Long nails are a major trend these days—seen on the hands of superstars like Cardi B and Billie Eilish. But a biologist warns this new trend may come with health hazards, considering what may be growing underneath.

Jeffrey Kaplan, a biology professor at American University, recently told USA Today that the area under the fingernail in the crevice is where most of the bacteria live.

“The longer the nail, the more surface area there is for microorganisms to adhere,” he said. “Studies have found 32 different bacteria and 28 different fungi underneath fingernails.”

Kaplan said it doesn’t matter if you have long artificial nails, long natural nails, gel nails, acrylic nails, or nail polish, because there is an increased probability of carrying microorganisms which makes it more difficult to decontaminate with handwashing or scrubbing.

One study found MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that causes serious infections in hospitalized patients, underneath half of the fingernail samples collected, according to Kaplan.

Also, some of the bacteria under nails can be found on the skin, like staphylococcus, which can lead to an infection.

“You can transmit fingernail bacteria to your system by scratching, nail-biting, nose-picking, and finger-sucking,” Kaplan said. 

He said the worst thing that could happen from the bacteria and fungi is a nail infection, which would not be life-threatening, but could leave your fingernails disfigured.

That is why most, if not all healthcare workers, are required to wear short nails due to being at risk for transmitting disease, according to Kaplan.

Two nurses at an Oklahoma City hospital may have contributed to the deaths of 16 babies in 1997 and 1998 because of bacteria found underneath their long nails, The New York Times reported.

Epidemiologists found a link between the deaths of the infants in the neonatal unit and the bacteria under the nails but did not prove it was the definite cause.

“When surgeons scrub for surgery and then they test their hands, there’s always bacteria under the fingernail and you can’t get rid of it,” Kaplan said. 

Kayla Newman, a nail tech based in North Carolina, told USA Today that none of her clientele has had infections or “nasty nails” in her eight years of service. “Generally people who have long nails know how to maneuver with them and keep them clean,” she said. “If you’re spending upwards of $60 to get your nails done and you don’t keep them clean, that doesn’t make sense.”

Newman has seen the trend for long nails grow over the last couple of years and social media platforms, like Instagram and TikTok, showcase artistic designs on nails that can be over two inches long.

Research contact: @USATODAY

Aloe vera juice is all over TikTok as the latest skincare and digestive health hack

April 11, 2022

Leave it to TikTok to discover (or, in this case, rediscover) all the best health trends. With over 13 million views on the hashtag, the spotlight currently belongs to aloe vera juice, a beverage many TikTokers claim can help clear breakouts, improve digestive health, and boost overall well-being, reports Bustle.

Aloe vera juice has been around for ages and is well-known for its nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties, says Dr. Laura DeCesaris, a clinical nutritionist and functional-medicine certified practitioner. But, she says, there’s an extra demand right now for multi-tasking functional beverages.

“Essentially, if you’re already going to be drinking fluids, it’s popular to look for options that have extra health benefits to help increase energy and vitality,” DeCesaris tells Bustle.

The juice comes from the cool, pulpy gel found inside the aloe vera leaf, which is then combined with water to create a drink, says DeCesaris. Yes, it’s the same stuff you put on sunburns too.

Aloe vera juice is widely available in bottles and jugs at grocery stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, as well as online and in health food stores. “You can drink it on its own or add it to a glass of water with a squeeze of citrus for a refreshing beverage,” she tells Bustle. Or, if you think it’s too bitter, you can blend it into a smoothie, mix it with sparkling water, or stir it into fruit juice.

While more research is needed to validate all of the potential benefits, DeCesaris says a few studies have shown that aloe vera juice may reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which includes digestive issues like constipation, bloating, and diarrhea. There’s also some evidence to suggest that it may help ease symptoms of heartburn, and that it may enhance the effectiveness of pharmaceutical interventions for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)—all great information to note if you’re prone to indigestion.

This may be because aloe vera juice is anti-inflammatory in nature, DeCesaris explains, and because it has “mucilaginous benefits” or a gel-like consistency that coats the lining of your stomach to reduce acid secretion. Then there are the antioxidants, like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, which she says can help to reduce inflammation even more and fight free radicals in the body.

While you might want to drink aloe vera juice for those digestion benefits, there are countless videos touting the drink’s many potential skin benefits, too. But does it really help if you drink it?

While TikTok says yes, naturopathic physician Dr. Alyssa DeSena isn’t so sure. “Most of the evidence supporting aloe vera’s use in acne is when aloe is used topically,” she tells Bustle. “There is not much on how aloe vera juice affects people who suffer with acne and psoriasis if they drink the juice.”

That said, DeSena points out that many folks who have breakouts and psoriasis often have gut health issues too, which is why drinking something that heals inflammation on the inside may lead to visible benefits on the outside. It’s just one of those online trends that research still needs to catch up with to fully understand its benefits as a natural remedy.

One word of warning: Aloe vera juice is a natural laxative, which is great news if you’re feeling constipated, but not so great if you already have regular bowel movements.

To make sure you don’t overdo it or upset your system, DeCesaris recommends drinking “inner leaf” aloe vera juice rather than “whole leaf.” It’s a bit milder in flavor and it’s less likely to cause loose stools, she says.

Start by drinking two ounces a day to see how you tolerate it, before slowly increasing to four ounces a day. “Everyone responds to foods, herbs, and drinks differently,” DeCesaris adds. “If you’re currently taking any medications, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor first before adding aloe to your routine.”

Research contact: @bustle

‘Glimmers’ are the opposite of triggers. Here’s how to embrace them.

March 25, 2022

“Trigger” has become a commonplace term in our cultural lexicon, but few people know about the opposite of triggers: glimmers.

Coined by  Deb Dana, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in complex trauma, in her 2018 book,  The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy, the term refers to  small moments when our biology is in a place of connection or regulation, which cues our nervous system to feel safe or calm, reports USA Today.

“We’re not talking great, big, expansive experiences of joy or safety or connection. These are micro moments that begin to shape our system in very gentle ways,” she explains.

And the concept has taken hold. On TikTok, for example, one video about glimmers has gained more than 78,000 likes and hundreds of comments expressing appreciation for the idea of embracing glimmers.

“I love this … and (I’m going to) hold on tight to it,” one user commented. “Ohhhh this is my new favorite thing ever,” another wrote.

So, what exactly is a glimmer? Glimmers aren’t just tiny moments that bring joy or happiness, they can also spark ease, relaxation, safety, connection—or a feeling that the world is OK, even for a fleeting moment.

Glimmers can be found in different places and senses—among them:

  • In nature, admiring your garden or seeing the stars in the sky,
  • In a stranger’s smile or the warmth of a loved one’s voice,
  • In the company of furry friends, and
  • In music, such as with unexpected church bells or your favorite song playing on the radio.

“You feel something happen inside. There’s an energy that happens around a glimmer, and then your brain then marks it as well,” Dana adds.

Who can benefit from glimmers? Noticing glimmers can be beneficial for everyone—but is especially helpful for people who have experienced trauma.

“The thing I love about glimmers is that, working with trauma survivors, it’s so respectful of their suffering,” Dana says. “It allows them to understand that their biology is wired in a way that, we don’t discount the trauma or the crisis or the ongoing suffering, but we recognize that their biology is exquisitely set up to be able to also notice the micro moments of goodness.”

Our brains have a natural tendency to look for the bad, says Amy Morin, a licensed clinical social worker and editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind.

“Being on the lookout for danger can help us stay physically safe. But since we are no longer lurking in the forest hiding from hungry animals, we don’t need to focus on the negative quite so much to stay physically safe,” she says.

“It’s really good for us to have a break from our uncomfortable emotions sometimes,” Morin explains. “A little joy and some relaxation can reduce your emotional distress.”

And when you are less emotional, you are more logical, she adds. “That means you might be able to tackle a problem from a different angle because you see things a little differently. Or you might be able to talk yourself into doing something difficult, once your anxiety subsides a little,” she says. “Less emotional distress can also help you take more positive action. And that positive action can help make your life better.”

Morin suggests allowing yourself to fully embrace feel-good emotions. “Sometimes people don’t want to feel them because they know those emotions won’t last, or they might feel guilty for feeling good during a hard time in their lives,” she says. “But trust that it’s OK to allow yourself to experience them. Enjoy them while they last. And know that you’ll have more moments of joy in the future as well.”

Research contact: @USATODAY

TikTok ousts Google to become world’s favorite online destination

December 29, 2021

Move over Google; TikTok now is the world’s most popular online destination. The viral video app gets more hits than the American search engine, according to Cloudflare, a U.S.-based IT security company.

The rankings show that TikTok knocked Google off the top spot in February, March, and June of this year, and has held the number one position since August, reports the BBC.

Last year Google was first, and a number of sites—among them, TikTok, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Netflix—were in the top ten.

Cloudfare said it tracks data using its tool Cloudflare Radar, which monitors web traffic. The company surmises that one of the reasons for the surge in Tiktok’s popularity is the ongoing worldwide COVID pandemic—as lockdowns meant people were stuck at home and looking for entertainment.

By July this year, TikTok had been downloaded more than three billion times, according to data company San Francisco-based Sensor Tower.

The social network, which is owned by a Chinese company called Bytedance, headquartered in Beijing, now has more than one billion active users across the world, and that number continues to grow.

In China, to comply with the country’s censorship rules, the app is called Douyin, and runs on a different network. Douyin originally was released in September 2016. This year, China ruled that users under the age of 14 would be limited to 40 minutes a day on the platform.

Research contact: @BBC

This baby and his swim instructor are friendship goals

October 22, 2021

A baby and his swim lesson instructor are the cutest friends and now the two are going viral on TikTok.

Tracey Martorana put her son, Lucas, now ten months old, in group swim lessons at three months at Saf-T-Swim in Wantagh, New York. He immediately formed a bond with one of the swim instructors, Carlson Rogers, and has been doing private lessons once a week with him ever since.

“Being a pandemic baby, our circle is really small,” Martorana recently told ABC-TV’s Good Morning America. “He knows the grandparents, immediate family and then there’s Carlson. Carlson is a part of our crew.”

Martorana said Carlson is the best swim instructor for Lucas because he goes with the flow and doesn’t push him too hard. If Lucas is crying, she said Carlson will give him time to sort it out; but if Lucas is splashing, he loves to splash and play along with him.

“I love watching the relationship,” Martorana said. “Carlson is a big strapping man and Lucas loves to hug him and hold onto him.”

While Lucas was at a recent swim lesson, Martorana took a video of a touching moment between Lucas and Carlson and posted it to TikTok.

“The comment section is hysterical. Everyone loves Carlson,” Martorana said. “I think it was just something important for people to see. Love knows no bounds.”

Research contact: @GMA

Not an evil twin: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is amazed by likeness to Alabama police officer

September 2, 2021

The Internet has discovered Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s doppelgänger and even he’s in awe of the similarities, HuffPost reports.

The 49-year-old actor, currently at the box office in Jungle Cruise, tweeted this week in response to a post by Bleacher Report that showed himself alongside an Alabama police officer named Eric Fields.

“Oh sh*t! Wow,” wrote Johnson in response to his likeness to the patrol lieutenant of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office. Of Fields, Johnson quipped that he’s “way cooler” and implored him to “stay safe brother and thank you for your service.”

He added that “one day we’ll drink @Teremana and I need to hear all your “Rock stories” because I KNOW you got ’em.” Teremana is the “Jungle Cruise” star’s brand of tequila.

The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office shared a snapshot of Fields and a local man on their Facebook page earlier this month—noting that the man had informed a fellow police officer that he “wanted to meet our Deputy that people say looks like ‘The Rock.’”

Fields and the man are all smiles in the photograph.

News of Fields and The Rock looking like twins even hit TikTok, with locals in Alabama highlighting the resemblance with hilarious videos:

For his part, Fields, who is 37 and has worked for the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office for 17 years, told AL.com that it’s been a “running joke” for him that he looks so much like both The Rock and, apparently, Vin Diesel.

“I’ve been called The Rock and Vin Diesel’s love child,” Fields told the outlet last week. “I go along with it. It’s humorous. It’s flattering. It could be worse people, I guess.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

Slinky seeks a new jingle after 75 years with a National Slinky Day campaign

August 31, 2021

This month, children’s consumer goods leader Just Play, based in Boca Raton, Florida, has launched a new jingle for  Slinky, the original walking spring toy—and is inviting others to join in by creating their own remixes. Content creators are encouraged to follow @originally_slinky and create their own #SlinkyRemix.

Introduced in tandem with National Slinky Day on August 30, the new interactive campaign remixes the original Slinky jingle across social platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, leveraging influencers to get the word out and drive participation.

This initiative kicks off Just Play’s partnership with Philadelphia-based  creative agency Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners (RTO+P).

“National Slinky Day is the perfect time to bring this iconic brand to a new generation in a fresh, relevant way,” said Geoffrey Greenberg, co-president of Just Play, in a company press release, adding, “Slinky truly is the original fidget toy and has long been an inspiration for creativity and innovation since its invention by Richard and Betty James in 1945. We’re excited to see where today’s content creators will take it.”

The campaign launches y with a 30-second video across social platforms. The clip mashes up old archival footage with new imagery of adults playing with Slinkys. The post directs consumers to Slinkys SoundCloud page, where they can access original Slinky jingle elements to create their own remix. Anyone who posts a new Slinky sound with #SlinkyRemix and tags the brand (@original_slinky) could win a Slinky Swag Pack, containing Slinkys and gear. Plus, one jingle will be featured in a national advertising campaign and win the ultimate Slinky prize package.

Slinky debuted in 1945 at Gimbels Department Store in Philadelphia and sustained popularity throughout the rest of the 20th century. When it was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2000, more than 250 million had been sold to date.

esearch contact: @JustPlayToys

Like falling off a log? Viral milk crate challenge on TikTok is denounced by orthopedists

August 26, 2021

The latest challenge to take the Internet by storm involves precariously stacked milk crates, balance—and some painful falls, The Guardian reports.

To complete the challenge, which recently started on TikTok, participants face a set of milk crates piled up in the shape of a pyramid—and attempt to climb to the top and then back down again without toppling over.

As videos of people falling painfully go viral on social media and rack up millions of views, doctors across the US are coming out to warn people of the dangerous injuries that can occur.

“It’s perhaps even worse than falling from a ladder,” Shawn Anthony, an orthopedic surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City told The Washington Post this week, adding, “It’s very difficult to brace yourself from the falls I’ve seen in these videos. They’re putting their joints at an even higher risk for injury.”

With many hospitals nationwide already overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients and running short on space and staff, health departments are urging people to reconsider their choices before taking on the challenge.

George Gantsoudes, a Virginia-based orthopedic surgeon, wrote on Twitter: “The orthopaedic surgeries required to fix problems caused by this may fall under the umbrella of ‘elective surgeries’.”

On Monday, the Baltimore city health department tweeted: “With COVID-19 hospitalizations rising around the country, please check with your local hospital to see if they have a bed available for you, before attempting the #milkcratechallenge.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also weighed in on the challenge after comedian Conan O’Brien  joked about how he needed federal officials to grant permission to the challenge before attempting it—playing off the FDA’s approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine earlier this week.

“Waiting for FDA approval before I take the Milk Crate Challenge,” O’Brien tweeted on Monday. The FDA responded shortly after, writing: “Although we regulate milk, we can’t recommend you try that. Perhaps enjoy a nice glass of 2% and return all those crates to the grocery store?”

The milk crate challenge is the latest of a slew of dares that have gone viral on TikTok. In recent months, the video-sharing platform has seen a rise of dangerous challenge—among them, the blackout challenge, which encouraged young people to hold their breath until they passed out, and the Benadryl challenge, which challenged young people to intentionally consume large amounts of the antihistamine to induce hallucinations.

In a statement about the most recent challenge, a TikTok spokesperson said: “TikTok prohibits content that promotes or glorifies dangerous acts, and we remove videos and redirect searches to our community guidelines to discourage such content. We encourage everyone to exercise caution in their behavior whether online or offline.”

Research contact: @guardian