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Have you ever found that you feel more productive scrolling through Tiktok than doing your assignments? Do you wake up to it? Find yourself justifying an extra 10 minutes because it hasn’t hit the hour? Well, you’re definitely not alone; emphasis on the definitely. Founded in 2016, Tiktok has amassed over 91 million users worldwide and has risen to be one of the most popular social media platforms we have ever seen. You only have to see Instagram’s desperate attempt to rip off Tiktok through Reels to understand how popular Tiktok has become. Famous for its 60 second videos and trends, Tiktok essentially takes all the best bits of Musical.ly and Vine to create the ultimate distraction because let’s be honest, once you start scrolling it’s hard to stop. Trust me I know; in the time it’s taken me to get to this point I’ve scrolled through Tiktok for a good 10 minutes for “research” aha. So what makes Tiktok so addictive, let’s find out shall we…
The biggest draw of Tiktok for me personally is the fact every video is only 60 seconds; I don’t have to stay focused for long to be entertained. This means we can decide within the first 15 seconds if we’re interested and if not scroll straight onto the next video. But when does the scrolling end? Once you hit a video you enjoy most of us then click on the creator and binge the rest of their videos; we know we’ll enjoy them because we enjoyed the first one. Whoops another 20 minutes down the drain just to realise you’re actually bored of bingeing their videos but still aren’t satisfied. It can feel almost hypnotic as you keep scrolling and scrolling; USC professor and author Dr Julie Albright suggests this is caused by us entering a “pleasurable dopamine state” that stops us from breaking the cycle.
Worryingly the biggest cause for this “pleasurable dopamine state” isn’t only the fact every video is a mere 60 seconds, though this does play a major factor, but Tiktok’s reliance on “shock value” content to keep its users scrolling. There is no denying we’re all suckers for crazy stunts and drama so that’s exactly what Tiktok provides no matter the cost. Now, I won’t go into details about some of the extreme challenges/trends we’ve seen Tiktok promote in the past – Skullbreaker Challenge for example – or we’ll be here all day, but these are the trends that create “shock value” content that we simply can’t just scroll past. Marry “shock value” content with catchy “sounds” and you’ve got a platform that’s hard to escape, especially for the youngsters which is who this app is marketed at.
I think you’ve got the picture by now and for many of you this probably isn’t news; it doesn’t take a genius to realise how addictive Tiktok really is and for many of us it’s just life. But what if I told you there might be a way out of your scrolling predicament? There is actually a way to set your screen time on the app; all you have to do is go onto your profile, click the three-dot icon in the top right-hand corner and scroll down to “Digital Wellbeing”. From there you can set your screen time and start your new life with a far less tired thumb.