How many hours have you wasted scrolling through Tiktok?
By: Abby Stevens
Over the past couple of years, the app TikTok has skyrocketed and doesn’t appear to be stopping in the near future. In 2022 alone, TikTok was downloaded more than 176 million times (Curry). In short, TikTok is an app to watch and make videos that range from one second to three minutes. That’s it. So what makes it special enough to be the most popular app two years in a row? I’d be lying if I said it does magical things or acts as top tier entertainment. But a majority of content on TikTok is meaningless videos following the latest trend or dance.
Despite my complaints about TikTok, it is my most used app. Along with many teenagers, I fall into the trap of its addicting videos, scrolling for hours. It is not because TikTok is the best app ever created, but the science behind it. TikTok affects the body’s attention span and fries the dopamine reward system (Miller). Every time someone watches a video, dopamine is released into the brain in a similar way to drugs. TikTok users see dozens of videos within minutes, causing an unhealthy cycle. A lot of teenagers understand this, but can’t seem to stop themselves; it has gotten to the point that some can’t live without it. Just the other day I walked in to my brother watching TikTok and a movie simultaneously. I asked what he was doing, and he responded by pointing at the TV as if I were dumb. I could see the TV, but it seemed as if he was paying more attention to his short videos than the two hour movie.
Tik Tok’s reward seeking loops create millions of users each day, but there are also positives that keep people coming back, myself included. For one, anyone can use it. I talk about teenagers, but over the past couple of years people of all ages have joined the bandwagon. Different languages, hobbies, music, etc. are all included on the platform, so it is easy to see why there are so many users. TikTok is an easy way to connect with friends and see what they are up to, even if it’s through meaningless videos. One of the most recent features is that people have begun to make money off of the app. Some use it for some extra cash, but for others, it is their only job. These people usually make videos on what they enjoy, or what others seem to enjoy. The more interactions, (views, likes, etc.) the more money they make. While all of these positives make TikTok as appealing as it is, they all have drawbacks that ultimately overpower the good. For example, TikTok is great for connecting with friends, but it can make people forget about in person connections and relationships. Social media often causes one to do and say things they typically wouldn’t in real life, which ultimately causes damage to relationships. When it comes to money, yes, TikTok is a good place to put some extra cash in your pocket. Nonetheless, I don’t see TikTok as a reliable source of income. Nobody knows how long TikTok will last, and it is constantly changing.
Just like anything else, TikTok has its pluses and negatives. Principally, however, I think we would be much better without it. TikTok has taken over many lives, hours and hours spent that were full of potential. I have noticed a difference even in the small effort I’ve made to stay off the app. I get more work done and stay on task better than ever. I especially feel more connected to myself and my surroundings when TikTok isn’t playing mindlessly in the background like a devil on my shoulder. Some may say that TikTok is just as bad as every social media app. While it is true that all social media is bad, it does not necessarily follow that on
average, users spend hours more on TikTok than other apps (Davis). Next time you pull out your phone and go to TikTok, think about what opportunities you’re missing.