Opinion: TikTok provides an artistic platform for users while also harming attention spans


Photo by Gracie Watt / Hilltop Views

TikTok is the most downloaded app on the Apple App Store. 62 percent of users in the U.S. are aged between 10 and 29, and spend an average of 52 minutes a day on it.

Since the pandemic began, we have been looking for more ways to keep ourselves from boredom when possible. TikTok rose in popularity significantly since the start of the pandemic; now amounting to around 1 billion users on the app. With TikTok trending, it’s reasonable to wonder what kind of impact the app, in addition to the pandemic, had on our mental health and the way we think. 

I do think that TikTok has affected the way we think and operate but this is nothing new. Social media in general has significantly affected our brains, and there are so many articles and resources pointing to and describing this. 

TikTok is a platform where users can create their own video content ranging between 15 and 60 seconds long. This is similar to the now-discontinued app, Vine, where users could create funny videos lasting six seconds. Because of the short amount of time in the content, concerns have been raised regarding how the app has affected the attention span of its users. 

Our attention span in 2000 was reported to be at 12 seconds and decreased to 8.25 seconds in 2015. As technology evolved over the years, our attention span has suffered. 

This is another example of how social media in general has affected our attention spansTikTok is not the only culprit. We’re so used to instant gratification from how much time we spend on our phones and on social media that our attention spans were already decreasing before the rise of TikTok. 

Despite the downsides of TikTok and social media in general, there are several positive aspects to it as well. TikTok has been a great platform for people to explore their hobbies and find new interests. It’s been a way for people to develop their own brand and career, helping them in the business and marketing scenes. 

Even as a hobby rather than a career, the app has been a great creative outlet for people, especially while quarantined. There are so many genres and topics to explore.  From comedy to music to performing. Each genre has been a great way for people to explore these interests and find new friends with similar things in common. 

In general, TikTok and other social media platforms are not inherently harmful, and can even have very positive results for many people. The most important thing when it comes to this is to make sure that we are devoting our time and attention to various things other than a screen. As long as we can find balance between our time on the internet and our time in the real world, we should be able to manage effectively.