Posted on: March 15, 2023
By: Emily Atkinson

Last month, I took a bold step. I forced myself to delete TikTok from my phone – for good.

After using the app for almost an entire year I realized that a good portion of my free time was being devoured by watching videos posted on TikTok. Of course, I’m not alone. Nearly two billion people use the app each month.

The day I made the decision I was shocked to see I had racked up 2 hours and 30 minutes of total app usage throughout the day. The final minutes were spent slumped on my couch after work, scrolling, scrolling, endlessly scrolling through hundreds of videos.

As my eyes began to burn, I realized I would never remember any of the videos I watched. Maybe I would laugh at something funny, but its impact on my life would be zero.

Sure, TikTok is an effective communications and marketing tool, but it is a master at stealing time.

I don’t want to totally knock TikTok. Using it was fun and I enjoyed plenty of videos, rewatched or even saved them, but at this moment I cannot recount a single video.

The main issue for me lies within the app’s algorithm. Why does it take dozens of swipes to find something worthwhile and at the same time keep me excitedly swiping and scrolling?

Like other social media platforms, TikTok has positive and negative effects on users. It’s a tool for learning new skills, a source of entertainment, and connection between users. On the business end it is an incredible way to advertise or market yourself to potentially millions of viewers.

But TikTok has a dark side. It is being banned from more than 20 college campuses including Texas A&M, University of Oklahoma and Auburn University. More than 30 states have begun efforts to limit access to the app as well. There are concerns that the China-based parent company, ByteDance, is farming user’s data for their benefit. So much so that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are a bit nervous.

The main question for me was: Why was I spending so much time on the app?

Somehow TikTok’s algorithm seems to be better at keeping me, the user, captivated than any other app. Maybe it’s because they’ve studied what I spend the most time looking at, and then blast me with the right video at the right time to keep me hooked, scrolling endlessly for that next hit of dopamine.

This may sound like heresy coming from somebody in the communications business but beware of TikTok. While it is entertaining and informational it studies your behavior and quietly pulls you in. And if you are not careful, poof. There goes an hour and another and another.