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It’s Time To Delete Tiktok

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Being a student is exhausting. Between studying, exams, and participating in organizations and social events constantly, it’s natural to wind down with some entertainment at the end of the day to relieve stress.

They open up TikTok, promising themselves that they will only spend a few minutes on the app before going to sleep. Yet, like magic, 30 minutes pass and they simply cannot look away from the perfectly curated content on their screen. 

If you relate to this, you are not alone. In fact, TikTok has become one of the biggest time wasters for students, with the average teen spending 91 minutes a day on the app in 2021, according to a study conducted by Qustodio. 

TikTok is a massive time sucker and it has a harmful impact on the attention span of users, who, on average, open the app eight times a day. This means that users open up TikTok in the middle of other activities — for instance, a particularly long math lecture or TV show. The constant mental stimulation that TikTok gives its users causes them to feel significantly more bored when doing activities that felt normal before. 

Besides being a waste of time, TikTok is a dangerous platform for users, serving as a hub of blatant misinformation and high-risk trends. Most TikTok users creating content about world events have not conducted sufficient research to support their claims, yet their videos can reach millions of people. 

In fact, a study conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that 33% of TikTok users admit to regularly getting news from the social media platform. The problem of receiving news from TikTok escalates when users take action based on the information they find. 

Recently, a woman accidentally flooded her home after attempting to unclog her toilet based on a “hack” she found on TikTok. A few weeks before that, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning against TikTok’s Nyquil Chicken Challenge, which encouraged users to cook chicken with cough medicine. 

Furthermore, insufficiently researched advice from TikTokers has been linked to users’ warped body image. Content creators post videos documenting their daily diet under #whatIeatinaday, often glamorizing unhealthy eating habits. TikTok creator Kayla Christine Long posted a viral video in 2020 highlighting that all she had consumed during the day was ice water. 

If these reasons are not sufficient for you to immediately delete TikTok, there is one more serious issue regarding the platform: data harvesting. 

CNBC reports that TikTok tracks users’ personal data more than any other social media app. Every detail from “your location, search history, IP address [and] the videos you watch” is collected by TikTok to be transferred to its Chinese parent company ByteDance and used to infer other characteristics about users such as age and gender. 

This may be why Tiktok’s user-curated content is eerily accurate and effective at grabbing users’ attention. Ultimately, TikTok’s collection of data is an extreme invasion of user privacy. There are a host of other problematic factors entangled within TikTok, but its three most significant issues are its waste of our time, promotion of misinformation and data harvesting tactics. 

As students juggle vast workloads and other obligations, they should find a healthier means of de-stressing at the end of the day: spending time with friends, calling a family member or simply going to bed early. 

TikTok has killed our attention spans and gathered our personal information for far too long — it’s long overdue that we disconnect.  

Chaya Sandhu is an Opinion Intern for the Fall 2022 quarter. She can be reached at clsandhu@uci.edu.