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Why You Should Get Off of TikTok: 5 Reasons to Decrease Your Time Online

Social Media

Sun, April 21

With over 1 billion active monthly users, TikTok has remained one of the most popular social media platforms among teenagers since the start of the Covid pandemic.

The popularity of TikTok lies in the structure of short-form content; 15-60-second clips are designed to be well-received by teenagers with short attention spans. The “For You Page" is powered by algorithms that recommend an endless stream of short videos designed to appeal to each user, curated through data collected from likes, comments, and shares. It is no wonder that TikTok is deemed the most addicting social media platform.

However, the addictive nature of TikTok, as with all social media, poses many dangers. At the beginning of this year, I began noticing how TikTok slowly began taking over my life. I know that I am not alone in this – I see many of my friends having similar experiences.

I decided to take a break from TikTok. Since taking a break, I've noticed that my life has improved in different ways, so here are four reasons why getting off TikTok could benefit you.

1. TikTok's algorithm creates an echo chamber

Teenagers often go on TikTok when they crave escapism or a sense of relatability. Since TikTok's algorithm is designed to curate content based on users' preferences and engagement patterns, a personalized user experience also results in limited exposure to diverse viewpoints and perspectives. In short, when a teenager spends hours on TikTok, they are receiving the same content over and over again. Although this could create a sense of comfort, it also results in a false sense of reality and can contribute to the echo chamber effect.

As teenagers, we should be learning to challenge our own beliefs and learn from others, developing a more comprehensive understanding of the world around us in many contexts, whether it be socially, politically or in our friendships. Learning to understand and listen to others is essential. Getting off TikTok would allow teenagers to be more exposed and aware of the world as well as the diverse perspectives around them.

2. TikTok can be extremely time-consuming

According to Business Insider, teenagers spend on average almost two hours on TikTok per day. To put this into context, there are endless things that could have beenachieved with this time: deep cleaning your bedroom, cooking a three-course meal, going on a run, watching an entire movie – even just getting an extra two hours of sleep could benefit you in a plethora of ways.

In addition, if we're talking about dedicating two hours per day to something, you could be using this time to learn or develop a new hobby, whether it be learning a new musical instrument, learning how to code or playing a new sport.

On TikTok, it is so easy to watch many hours unknowingly pass by as you continue to aimlessly scroll. Teenagers need to be aware of how they are using their time. After all, our teenage years are valuable – these are times when we are allowed to be adventurous and carefree.

Spending excessive time on TikTok can detract from our real-life experiences with the people around us. We should cherish our teenage years and live outside of the screen.

Mikoto.raw from Pexels

3. TikTok content is often meaningless

TikTok is not only extremely time-consuming but contains content that is easily forgettable, repetitive and meaningless. It is hardly possible for 15-to 60-second clips to bring much insight or meaning to viewers, and many videos that end up on the user's for you page are trends or content that we end up swiping down on. The brevity of TikTok videos makes it hard for content creators to deliver or convey in-depth insights or ideas.

After scrolling on TikTok, I realized I couldn't even recall what I saw due to the high volume of videos I was watching in such a short amount of time. The videos I did remember didn't contain profound or meaningful content. At most, I would find a certain content creator or TikTok trend funny or entertaining and share it with a friend.

Although many creators strive to provide educational and inspiring content on the platform, the high density and repetitive nature of TikTok videos often leave viewers without meaningful experiences on TikTok. Why spend so much time on TikTok if you aren't getting much out of it?

4. TikTok lowers your attention span

TikTok's short videos encourage quick consumption and constant stimulation. By developing a habit of primarily consuming short videos, users' attention spans continue to be shortened. The constant shifting of attention and exposure to easily digestible content makes it difficult for users to continue to engage in activities that contain less visual simulation or require longer periods of focus such as reading, conducting research or even watching full-length movies.

The activities mentioned above require sustained focus, encouraging individuals to think critically and more deeply, which leads to a more immersive and rewarding experience. When deciding whether or not to continue using TikTok, it is important to not underestimate the value of patience and a good attention span.

Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

5. TikTok worsens teenagers' mental health

Gen Z has valued and learned the importance of taking care of our mental health. TikTok, like all social media, is a platform that inevitably leads to social comparison, FOMO (fear of missing out) and content that perpetuates hate. Content creators often treat social media and TikTok as a way to showcase their highlight reels, displaying misleadingly perfect lives and expectations for viewers. It is common for users to feel inadequate or have low self-esteem when comparing themselves to seemingly impossible expectations of everybody on TikTok, leading to potential mental health issues.

Constant exposure to seemingly perfect content also leads to a common phenomenon of FOMO, and online platforms are a breeding ground for hate comments or perpetuating negativity behind a screen. Getting off of TikTok would pose an opportunity for users to start focusing on themselves, and reduce social comparisons.

Max Fischer from Pexels

With all social media, it is important to seek balance. Being aware of your TikTok usage and habits is crucial in this day and age where we are constantly surrounded by the media.

Stephanie Ma

Writer since Apr, 2024 · 3 published articles

Steph is a junior from Hong Kong attending The Webb Schools in California and is passionate about musical theater/theater tech, journalism, and music. She is the co-editor of opinion and upcoming editor-in-chief for her school publication, the Webb Canyon Chronicle. In her spare time, she enjoys songwriting, hanging out with friends, and writing.