We all laughed when they claimed TikTok is addictive but here we are again, at two in the morning scrolling through endlessly entertaining reels, telling ourselves ‘just one more.’ To be fair, the app wasn’t designed to be digital cocaine. It’s like any other social media app, made to connect people and provide a platform they can use to express themselves creatively.
But there is something about TikTok that makes your fingers twitch to refresh and recheck the For You Page (FYP) or re-watching a video again and again to nail the latest dance moves. People haven’t wanted to share content like this before.
So what is it exactly about TikTok that makes it so addictive? We’ve compiled a comprehensive guide on why TikTok is addictive and steps to take to manage your addiction and conquer it.
Can TikTok Be So Addictive?
Addictive dance moves on TikTok
In short, yes. Though social media addiction isn’t officially recognized as a medical condition it is no less rampant in the current generation with possible negative outlooks in the future if there are no checks and balances. Doctors and medical researchers have conducted studies to determine the effects of social media and its impact on the physical and mental health of those who interact with it moderately, frequently, and far too much.
The results were astounding but not surprising. Social media apps, like TikTok, affect everything from our physical health to our mental health. Stooped necks, eyestrain, and gamers’ thumb are just a few of the physical impacts of social media addiction. Mental health is a whole other can of worms. From depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, lack of focus, emotional drain, and irritability, addiction to social media can run a gamut on your mental health.
What Makes TikTok So Addictive
Like every other social media app, TikTok uses a specific algorithm to gather user information and supply a specifically curated feed that will keep them on the platform longer. No one knows how TikToks specific algorithm works but they use the information they gather on the user to create an endless loop of short videos, roping them in with reward and constant dopamine hits where they don’t have to physically go looking for content.
Dr. Julie Albright from the University of Southern California suggests that TikTok implements its algorithm like slot machines in a casino. We know what you’re thinking. What does gambling have to do with TikTok? According to Dr. Albright, the endless loop of curated short videos works very much like a slot machine. The user is hooked to the promise of a video that would provide the perfect dopamine hit making the endless scroll worth it. And thus the loop continues. The user is hooked on the promise of pleasure.
If the aim were to get a high from winning, we wouldn’t have so many people addicted to gambling. According to research conducted by ResponsibleGambling, people get a high from gambling even when they lose. The same is the case when we upload content to TikTok and wait for responses on it.
How To Stop if TikTok is So Addictive
Though it might sound dire, there is no need to lose hope. TikTok addiction is curable. All it needs is some guidance, help from your friends, and your will to change. Here are some steps you can take that will help you overcome it:
Record the damage
Before you take steps to recovery, make a note of just how bad things are. Note down how many hours you use TikTok in a day. This is a great way to jolt yourself out of complacency. Most of us think we have our social media use in control. Noting down the time spent on TikTok will help you realize how far down the rabbit hole you are.
Why are you on TikTok in the first place?
As far away as it seems there was a time before TikTok was in your life. So, why did you download TikTok in the first place? What was the motivation? What were you hoping to get out of it? Now, ask yourself if any of those needs are necessary. Also, go through the list of content creators you’re following and remove those that provide the most volume but least value. Tidying up the ‘follow’ list also provides TikTok with information on exactly what you’re looking for and curates your FYP accordingly.
Set limits on your viewing activity
Slowly, start walking back the hours you spend on the app. If you noted 6+ hours when you started noticing you were addicted, then assign yourself three and parcel them out through the day. Set a timer on your phone so you can keep true by this. We suggest scheduling zero time for social media apps after 8 pm, or at least two hours before bedtime. This allows you to completely detox from all forms of stimulus before you go to sleep, assuring a more rested night and a refreshed morning.
Find a distraction
Though it will be hard at first, try and find something else to do when you feel the need to scroll through TikTok. Go for a walk, meet up with a friend, pick up a book, or take up dance classes. The point is to find an alternative to the dopamine hits you get from TikTok and to try to find them in other things instead. Slowly but surely you’ll seek other things as a source of entertainment and not social media apps like TikTok.
It would be impractical to think you can live your life without social media. It is an important tool that has its uses. If you need to be socially active you need to know what it’s all about. However, there is a thin line between entertainment and addiction. Only those who know they have a problem can get help for it. We hope you found the answers you needed and that our tips help you find balance.
Check our guide on TikTok Won’t Load: How To Fix Your App In 4 Easy Solutions here.