TIKTOK: THE APP DESIGNED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE YOUTHS’ SHORTENING ATTENTION SPAN
Nowadays, one of the most commonly used social media platforms is TikTok. Designed to draw in young viewers’ attention and hold it, Tik Tok has gained tremendous popularity. The app had over 689 million activity viewers as of January 2021. TikTok consists of mainly 15-second clips catered to the entertainment preferences of every viewer. The videos on TikTok are usually attention-grabbing, and when an individual does not feel stimulated, they have the power to scroll to another entertaining video. The app is essentially designed to entertain constantly.
The stimulating app aims to capture and keep the attention of young viewers in particular. According to Pew Research Center, the vast majority of TikTok’s users are under 30. Specifically, 32.5% of TikTok users are from ages 10-19. The short videos successfully lock in these viewers: a new study has shown that, on average, people from ages 4 to 14 spend roughly 80 minutes on the app a day, with these users opening the app at least eight times a day.
It appears the app is so popular since the short videos parallel the general public’s decreasing attention span. A study conducted by Microsoft showed that the average attention span dropped 25% from 2000 to 2015, shrinking from 12 to 8 seconds. The trend of a shortening attention span is not a coincidence. The decrease in attention span occurred within the period where technology became intensely ingrained in everyday life.
Shortened attention spans affect how people interact with technology and how they function in everyday life. The ample time spent on TikTok can be very harmful to a child or teenager who has hours of homework and other activities they must attend to. There is a lack of physical activity among teenagers and children who are on their phones all the time. The phenomenon is dangerous and cyclical. The more time people spend on technology, the less attention span they have. When people have a lower attention span, they are more likely to turn to TikTok. Since TikTok is so addictive, people spend more time on their phones, perpetuating the whole cycle.
Furthermore, the shortened attention spans have many detrimental effects on our population, especially our youth. Poor performance in work or school is one of the leading side effects of shortened attention spans. Students with short attention spans are reported to perform up to 72% worse than those with long attention spans. A shorter attention span can cause people difficulty or inability to complete simple mundane tasks, trouble communicating with others, difficulty remembering things about themselves, and sometimes even poor health due to neglect of healthy habits. These effects cause a significant impact on daily life, especially for teenagers and children who should be forming healthy lifelong habits in their youth.
It is clear that social media apps designed to engage young people’s shortened attention spans have only brought adverse effects and will only continue to do so with time. However, by spreading awareness of the detrimental impacts of swiping through TikTok and teaching our youth tools to have a healthy relationship with social media, we can lessen the adverse effects of the app. Teaching young people to use social media in moderation will help instill healthy technology habits and eventually make young people healthier and more productive.
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Sadik, F. (n.d.). Teachers’ and Students’ Opinions About Students’ Attention Problems During the Lesson. Journal of Education and Learning. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1232893.pdf