TikTok is shrinking our attention span with every swipe

TikTok’s short videos make it very easy for people to lose interest in longer activities


TikTok is a popular social media app that can lead to a shorter attention span due to the short videos on the platform. (Photo via Unsplash)

Jahson Nahal, Sports Editor

With every swipe on TikTok we see our attention span decrease. According to a 2021 article by The Science Times, those who use the app for over 90 minutes a day can narrow their collective attention span over time.

TikTok is a social media platform that rose to popularity while everyone was on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The platform consists of short videos that range from 15 seconds to 3 minutes, which users can find on the “Explore” page and on the “For You” page.

I think TikTok users should limit their time on the app. Features like the “For You” page, which constantly recommends the user videos, make it easy to scroll through content for hours. Setting limits on time spent on the app per day can help with people’s attention span.

According to the Business of Apps, the average time spent on TikTok by someone in the United States of America is an hour and eight minutes per day. 

With the content at our fingertips, I’ve noticed my own attention span decreasing. I used to be able to watch YouTube videos or shows that were 30 minutes long but now I find myself losing interest in those same videos or shows very quickly. 

With TikTok, if you stumble upon a video you don’t like you can easily swipe until something catches your eye. I feel like that has a big impact on why I find myself checking my phone or changing the channel during longer shows that I used to watch before.

According to a 2021 article by countercurrents.org, there are many negative effects of having a lesser attention span. Some of these negative effects include communication difficulties in relationships and poor performance at work or school.

I could see the effect on school being even bigger right now since some students are still taking their classes online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With a lower attention span, it can be easy for students to lose focus during class Zoom meetings or online assignments. 

If TikTok users lower the amount of time they spend on the app scrolling through short videos it can help them stay focused during longer activities like school or work. 

TikTok has a feature in its settings where users can set a limit of 40, 60, 90 or 120 minutes of screentime each day and once a user reaches that limit they would have to put in a password to continue using the app.

I recommend that users try their own limit because the limits that TikTok does provide are still a lot of time to be used towards the app. Two of the daily limits provided by TikTok exceed the daily average that an American spends on the app.

Spending less time mindlessly scrolling through TikTok will help with our attention span and hopefully, we can get back to doing our day-to-day activities without feeling the need to swipe up.