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TikTok Addiction: How Does Using TikTok Affect You

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29 Jun 2022

5 Min Read

John Lee (Guest Contributor), Josephine Serena (Editor)


Do you have a TikTok addiction? Is TikTok dangerous to your well-being? The Risers’ ambassador, John, talks about the advantages and disadvantages of using TikTok.

TikTok's a revolutionary platform that brought about a worldwide boom for ‘shorts’ — short videos. As audiences grow more impatient due to the hyperstimulation of the brain caused by social media, they’re moving to a new time-saving trend. From YouTube to TikTok, from lengthy to concise. These short, impactful, and engaging contents have already blended into our lives.

1. What are the advantages of using TikTok?

The girl is taking a selfie

There are many benefits of using TikTok — no more long ads, no more dull content, and virtually no more entry barriers — everyone stands a chance to be a social media star. TikTok has become the go-to social platform for anybody to express themselves, as long as they’ve a mobile phone. From doing TikTok dance challenges, watching clips of a-day-in-a-life videos, to listening to critical opinions about a controversial topic, the content you can consume (and create) is limitless.


I mean imagine being able to grasp complex concepts that you once struggled to understand during class through TikTok — how amazing is that? That’s not all. For content creators, TikTok acts as a gateway to promote your content on other channels to your followers. Thanks to TikTok’s customised recommendation algorithm, it’s relatively easy to gain fame on TikTok which can be converted to Instagram followers, YouTube subscribers, or even your potential customers!


From the backseat, it seems like TikTok posits many benefits. However, is it really all that good or is TikTok dangerous? Let’s dive into the disadvantages of using TikTok.

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2. What are the disadvantages of using TikToK?

a. You’ll be easily influenced


It’s undeniable that social media comes with its own set of cons and TikTok has its disadvantages too as users can be easily persuaded into believing ideas, opinions, or even propaganda. Let’s say someone’s giving an opinion in a TikTok video, most of the time the dominant comments are the ones agreeing with the opinion in the video. This is because the way TikTok’s algorithm works is that the more you show interest on a certain type of content (through your likes and time spent on watching), the more the algorithm will continue to feed you with similar content. This means that the TikTok videos users consume will most likely be suggested to the majority that already agrees with the opinion amongst TikTok users based on the algorithm.


BUT let’s say you don’t agree with the opinion.


Unless you’ve strong beliefs and stand by your opinion, you’ll be overwhelmed by the dominant comments or likes and be influenced by the majority to change your opinion. This often goes to an extent where it could challenge your moral sense, disturbing the moral compass within, triggering an instinctual behaviour to join the bandwagon and unknowingly forcing you to conform to what seems like the majority — which may or may not be true or accurate. This can be dangerous as it can be misused by people with malicious agenda to hurt others.

The girl lies in bed an looks at the phone

b. The spread of false information


Another TikTok disadvantage is that it encourages laziness in some sense too. The laziness I’m referring to is the laziness to validate the information you receive when watching TikTok. In other words, putting the extra effort to do your due diligence and check if the information is true or logical.


Yes, you’ll learn and absorb a massive amount of information on TikTok whether it’s scientific phenomenon, psychological theories, or even mental health advice. But people are often too lazy to fully hear the other side of the story or sufficiently validate and check if it’s true or not. Since you’re unlikely to validate the info, this is how rumours and misinformation happen. And before you know it, it’s spread rapidly throughout TikTok and ‘infect’ other social media platforms. Take for instance the misinformation about vaccination, false rumours about celebrities, and even war news.


Once you acknowledge this misinformation, you’d likely believe it as a fact and chances are you’d start expressing yourself based on them. It’s easier to do it these days as freedom of expression is encouraged and TikTok is a platform designed to do that. Afterwards, your comment may even be validated with a few likes or agreeable comments. This transforms into temporary identity and over time, if there aren’t any strong interventions of said belief, becomes a permanent identity which turns into ‘new logic’.


This affects many people, especially the younger ones who may not have fully developed their critical thinking skills and are exposed to dangerous ideas and trends. They may think a particular trend is okay to follow just because ‘everyone’ does it. Take for instance The Blackout Challenge where you hold your breath until you lose consciousness — which, according to experts, can cause brain damage.

c. It causes TikTok addiction


Let’s face it, we know TikTok addiction is real. It might seem like an obvious point, however, TikTok has introduced another level of addictiveness.


Since the invention of TikTok and its increase in popularity as an alternative to Vine, it has normalised the hyperstimulation of the brain. This suggests that massive amounts of content are overly fed to the brain. Those contents are fun, entertaining, and addictive. They trigger your brain to release an unnatural amount of dopamine which is a chemical that your brain releases. This gives a sense of pleasure and also reinforces the behaviour.


The more you scroll through TikTok the faster your brain adapts to reestablish a balance between the dopamine surges and normal levels of the substance in the brain. During the process, the brain begins to produce less dopamine. This will make natural rewards less pleasurable, making you crave more content to produce more dopamine.The hyperstimulation damages the dopamine reward system and leaves it unresponsive to natural sources of pleasure (like sleeping, spending time in the sun, etc).


Therefore, TikTok can be highly addictive in terms of feeding an exceedingly large amount of pleasurable content as the videos are short and time-saving which means you can consume more TikTok videos in an hour than an average Youtube video.

The use of TikTok seems like an inevitable decision to make if you’re trying to keep up with social media trends and has quickly become a key part of our social life. It’s the new paradigm — and TikTok videos are often talked about in daily conversations. It’s understandable to use TikTok if you desire, however, you should always be mindful of how you’re influenced and the TikTok disadvantages.

John Lee pursues Cambridge A Level at Taylor's College. He’s also Singer and Quarter Master for TMC, Asst. Director of Member’s Development for AKPK, Freelance Songwriter.

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