Since launching in 2016, TikTok has gained over one billion monthly active users and has emerged as one of the world’s most popular social media platforms. The key to its success is the endless cycle of short-form videos lasting 15–60 seconds.
The content on TikTok is completely targeted towards each individual. Likes, comments, watch time and shares all feed into a recommendation algorithm, which then evaluates how suitable a video is for each user and reflects the user’s interests, causing them to stay on the app longer.
The process offers an endless thread of on-trend content to watch and fuels the highly addictive nature of the app.
TikTok creates a “For You” page which reflects preferences unique to each user, creating a personal link between viewers and the app. This differs from other social media platforms, like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, as it builds an emotional connection between users, another feature that increases the usability and appeal of the app.
The “For You” page allows you to scroll through endless targeted videos. There is no waiting time between each video; users must swipe to watch the next one. And that can be seriously addictive and contributes to users’ time on the app.
This contrasts the social media platform YouTube, where users only watch a short amount of videos that are often longer in duration and contain advertisements.
Another aspect of TikTok that makes the app addictive is short videos. The social media platform allows users to create and watch short video content, primarily 15 seconds long. People crave micro-entertainment and short bursts of video distraction, which is one of the main reasons for the app’s popularity. Content is short, fun and on-trend.
How to curb your TikTok addiction?
It’s natural to get a dopamine kick from likes and comments on your photos. However, constantly refreshing your feed to track likes by the minute or getting real pleasure from online attention may be a cause for concern.
If you act this way whenever you post a photo, it’s time to turn that phone off and focus your mind elsewhere.
Social media is taking over your life
If you find that using social media interferes with your life, such as your work or education, it’s time to do a digital detox. Similarly, suppose you are starting to feel guilty about how long you have been spending online or notice it is causing you to become socially isolated. In that case, this indicates that you need to make some changes.
You are unable to keep to your schedules
Following the above, if you find you’re procrastinating or struggling to keep up with appointments and schedules due to social media usage, this is an indicator that you’ve lost sight of your priorities as the urge to go online has overtaken them.
You are suffering from physical aches and pains
The recent tics surge is just one example of social media addiction physically affecting the body. As well as this, extensive social media usage can lead to problems such as neck aches, back pain, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome.
It can also lead to issues with your vision or insomnia. Any addiction can cause people to neglect their hygiene or diet too.
Your finances are being impacted
While many social media platforms are free, they can still be an expensive habit. Social platforms are full of swipe-ups, sponsored posts and ads, so they can quickly impact your bank balance.
If you find it difficult to resist online ads or make excessive purchases, this is a sign you should limit your usage.
Martin Preston adds: “Just because internet addiction does not involve a substance as such does not make it any less damaging. Cognitive behavioural therapies combined with other evidence-based therapies to treat the underlying causes of the problem often prove to be the most successful in terms of internet addiction treatment.”
Lack of sleep
Whether checking your work messages right before bed or surfing TikTok as soon as you wake up, social media addiction not only affects your ability to get to sleep but also impairs the quality of your sleep.
Loneliness and insecurity
Some people rely very heavily on their phones to overcome feelings of loneliness and depression when the pressures of social media or misreading text messages can worsen these emotions.
As well as putting a physical barrier between yourself and whoever you’re with, an obsession with compulsively checking social media, and sharing pictures of food, holidays and yourself, can mean you become more connected with your online world than the real one.