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TikTok is harmful to students’ mental health and should not be used as an escape

The popular social media platform, like many others, creates an addiction that many have suffered from.

By Natalie Metcalf, Staff Writer

DAMAGING – The famous and addictive social media app – Tiktok – is causing harm to users. (Natalie Metcalf/The Valley Star)

TikTok has gone too far in its transformation into an escape and users of the app should be limited to 40 minutes per day instead of spending hours on the app.

As much as TikTok can be enjoyable, its addictiveness causes more harm than good. The constant scrolling becomes more of an obligation than entertainment. Students spend too many hours on TikTok, as 37 percent of America’s mobile internet users access the social media app at least once a day. The app is commonly used as a distraction from confronting stressful events, such as studying for exams and homework. It is easier to forget one’s problems by scrolling through videos and numbing the stress of school and current events. Limitations should be placed upon users so students could obtain a healthier experience with the app.

“Whenever I look at my screen time, I’d say it’s about an hour to an hour and a half,” said first year business major Connie Memanno.

As of April 2021, six percent of TikTok users spent ten hours every week on the app. In order to change this high number of hours, there should be a limitation to how much time is spent on the app every day.

Douyin – the Chinese version of TikTok – has a 40 minute time limit for children under 14. Here in the United States, it would also help college students. TikTok users in America should be given the 40 minute limit as well, to reduce wasted time.

Last year, “The Wall Street Journal” launched an investigation into the app. Based on whom users follow, what videos they like and how many times they watch them, the social media app pushes users to watch more videos. The journal created bot accounts and within 36 minutes TikTok was able to find their interests. Eventually, 93 percent of the user’s “for you page” content is related to topics the person is interested in. But the more time a person spends on the app, the more time they are wasting.

California’s Attorney General Rob Bonta recently announced a nationwide investigation into the social media app, looking into how TikTok can be harmful to younger viewers. The investigation will also examine the methods the app employs to boost user activity, including how much time is spent scrolling on the app and how it can be so addictive. Bonta has joined with attorney generals from Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee and Vermont.

According to CBS news, experts believe TikTok’s algorithm promotes content related to depression, anxiety and eating disorders. But the popular app also contributes to these issues. In a study by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, experts found general depression and anxiety was 4.4 percent and 3.6 percent between male and female users. Over time, people develop internet use disorder – which is an addiction that links to depression and social anxiety.

Life on Tiktok is not real; rather, it is fabricated to look a certain way. A reason why the social media app can be so harmful is that people are vulnerable to believe what they see. This can lead to participation in a trend or challenge that can damage mental and physical health.

Point-of-view trends on the app are toxic, especially when the content involves invasion of privacy and oversexualizing women by promoting high beauty standards. This gives younger viewers a false version of life. As a result of the excessive internet use, they will grow more comfortable talking behind a screen rather than in-person.

In order to reduce time spent on the app, students can put their energy into other activities. Other rewards for time spent studying could include physical activity or hanging out with friends. Students can limit their usage to 30 minutes a day or use TikTok as a reward for themselves after finishing homework. If studying is difficult to accomplish alone, they can form a study group with classmates.

It can be difficult to flee from the largest form of modern escapism, but it is not impossible.


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