The reason I can’t seem to delete TikTok.
BY CAMERON SMITH, ’21.
TikTok, a social media platform that allows users to share short videos, was originally released in September 2016. In January 2021, the app has still continued to grow to the point where there are around 800 million users on the platform, according to BusinessOfApps. The user base is clearly expansive but it’s not only that the user base is large, it’s the amount of time that the users spend on the app.
I am a user on TikTok and I often find myself spending multiple hours per day mindlessly scrolling through the multimedia platform. The average user spends about 52 minutes per day on the app, according to Omnicore, and the largest part of that user base is between the ages of 16 and 24. Tiktok is more often than not for me at least, used as a procrastination tool or a distraction from productivity which can be a detriment to school work and minimizes potential in the classroom as well.
The app is not typically used just once in a day as 90% of users open the app more than once a day according to Omnicore. This causes users to continually use it as a distraction when they could otherwise be productive. I often would rather go on Tiktok than do my work and that usually leads me to falling behind or just not doing the assignment and saving it for a later time which inevitably leads to the same situation where I just end up scrolling through TikTok again.
UA High School senior Andrew Sexton shared some of the same thoughts that I have about Tiktok.
“I do think that TikTok is helpful as a form of entertainment or a platform for people who are looking to grow quickly on social media,” he said. “For me, though, it is often incredibly distracting and it can be difficult to get work done because I am spending way too much time on the app.”
There’s more to the app than just simply being a distraction mechanism, though; the further I became curious about this topic and what the situation with the app was, I found that TikTok uses a form of psychology to entertain its users. They use random reinforcement which means sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. An article published by Forbes compared the formula on TikTok to a Vegas slot machine. Sexton also mentioned this as being one of the main reasons for the amount of time he spends on the app.
“I feel that is what keeps me engaged. The videos that pop up on my for you page are things I am interested in and things I find funny so I never really got bored of the app. It does cause me to be distracted though.”
This describes how I feel, too. The real reason I continue to scroll is because when I am drawn to a short video, it is engaging and then can lead me down a rabbit hole of looking further into that account and other short videos on that account from just watching one video. This means that I spend more and more time on the app, which is seemingly one of the app’s main goals.
The app truly has something that everyone can enjoy with videos ranging from unusual life hacks to cooking videos to obscure memes. The videos that are posted on the app are the main contribution to the lottery system which TikTok thrives on.
Sexton also said that the app is a “mix of both good and bad because it is great for entertaining and a good way to waste time, but often times I find myself wasting hours on it”
There are pros and cons to TikTok, as there are most things, but limiting the amount of time on the app can help prevent lack of motivation while also providing some short term entertainment.