TikTok’s popularity has led to growing concerns about its impact on the brain, especially in children and teens. Some studies suggest that the platform’s endless stream of bite-size videos, which deliver entertaining content in as little as 15 seconds, could be changing our attention spans.
When we watch short-form videos, our brains release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is associated with pleasure and reward. This can lead to a cycle of addiction, where we constantly crave the next hit of dopamine. Over time, this can make it harder for us to focus on activities that don’t offer instant gratification.
A study published by Guizhou University of Finance and Economics in China and Western Michigan University found that videos on TikTok and YouTube Shorts engage users through “short bursts of thrills,” which can lead to the development of addictive behavior.
The study’s findings are in line with previous research that has suggested that our “collective attention span” is narrowing due to how quickly we consume content on social media.
Children’s brains are particularly vulnerable to the effects of short-form videos. This is because the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for attention and impulse control, doesn’t fully develop until age 25.
When children watch short-form videos, their brains are not getting the opportunity to practice sustained attention. This can make it harder for them to focus on tasks in school and in other areas of their lives.
Some social media companies have taken steps to address the issue of short-form video addiction. For example, TikTok has implemented features that limit the amount of time users can spend on the app. However, more research is needed to understand the long-term effects of short-form videos on the brain.
The sources for this piece include an article in TheWeek.