TikTok’s Negative Impact on YOUR Mental Health

Photo Credit: Darryl Taylor

Photo Credit: Darryl Taylor

Darryl Taylor, OwlFeed Opinion Reporter

            I myself, at one point, used the app TikTok, I made videos of myself participating in certain trends, however with using the TikTok app there comes a lot of baggage, which I can testify to, however, the goal of this article will be to inform you all and persuade you to make a choice, this will be told later on.

In the beginning, TikTok had its humble beginnings in September of 2016 starting in China and was owned by ByteDance. ByteDance bought out Musical.ly for a supposed 800 – 1 billion dollars and transitioned all of its users to TikTok. It was a sort of merge of the apps. Since then it has grown at unprecedented rates with over 1 billion monthly active users, in only 4 years. For reference, YouTube has 2.2 billion monthly active users and Snapchat has 500 million monthly active users. 

          Before the article begins I will address the fact that most people have heard the saying that scrolling on TikTok for long amounts of time will lead to depression or other bad effects. Though this may be true I will go into depth and explain the science behind all of this and paint a clearer picture of TikTok’s negative impact on your mental health. With this in mind, the goal of this article will be to educate and persuade you all to make a choice on whether you will remain on TikTok. After reading this dense article, my hope would be that everyone, with critical concern, thinks about their choice to use TikTok. So without further ado let’s delve in.

Now, how and why does TikTok cause depression, anxiety, and stress? All but one of these studies apply to all social media apps, but an emphasis should be put on TikTok because of the bonus aspects of the app. Back to the point, how? It is all physiological, fear of missing out (FOMO), which can lead to stress, more stress of posting consistently, or depression, because you keep scrolling for dopamine, and eventually just like drugs and other addictions you don’t get anything out of it. Fact, In a study conducted by Peng Sha and Xiaoyu Dong, the two found that TTUD (TikTok use disorder) had direct and meditating connections to stress, anxiety, depression and memory loss. Now, why does this occur? Well there are a number of reasons one would be that your phone in general affects your sleep. According to childmind.org, Caroline Miller states in her article, “Research shows that 60 percent of adolescents are looking at their phones in the last hour before sleep, and that they get on average an hour less sleep than their peers who don’t use their phones before bed.” Basically, blue light from electronics distorts your ability to sleep. Which leads to sleep deprivation and that leads to depression.

Second reason would be the ‘dopamine loop’ that occurs when using social media. If someone is not familiar with dopamine In an article from Lee Health it is explained, “Dopamine is actually a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger between neurons) involved in neurological and physiological functioning. It’s the same chemical our brain releases when we eat, have sex, or gamble—or use our smart phones.” Also, “This cycle of motivation, reward, and reinforcement is a “dopamine loop” that gets users seeking, looking, craving rewards and more of them”. So with this information in mind, we can all see how easily it is for one person to become addicted to something that gives them a satisfying pump of dopamine. 

       Brittney McMarma explains in her article, The Science Behind Social Media’s Hold on Our Mental Health, “The more we activate that intense pleasure response on social media, Lembke says, the more we crave it. The repetitive action becomes less exciting and we end up needing more to give us the same pleasure we experienced with a lesser amount before.” She compares it to a drug, “That’s when, Lembke says, we enter a dopamine deficit: We experience less pleasure when we’re not using the drug that makes our dopamine surge (in this case, the drug is social media) and we become more unhappy than what was once our baseline.”

Take at least 20 seconds to try to comprehend this. In the beginning, as you were scrolling on TikTok you were at normal dopamine levels, then you got a pump of dopamine from using TikTok and that felt good. So you keep doing it and you close the app feeling happy. You go back and repeat the cycle consecutively, and your dopamine levels stay consistent with how you feel when you scroll on TikTok because you do it so often and for so long. So now when you’re not on TikTok you feel unhappy. But it gets worse, while you’re on TikTok you start to feel unhappy because you desire that original joyful feeling you got when first using the app, but that was long ago. “It doesn’t necessarily feel good, and you aren’t getting anything from your actions, but you just keep scrolling.” McMarma claims. It’s a mindless scroll, not to mention the comparison that comes with social media. The bonus aspect of TikTok would be the very precise algorithm it has, presenting entertainment for you to enjoy. You sit consuming the often very short videos. This is no accident, the app was precisely created to hook you. “For whatever overcomes a person, to that, he is enslaved.” (2 Peter 2:19).

Please do not misunderstand, I am not advocating for the deletion of TikTok from your phone, simply that you put discipline in between yourself and your entire phone and use it in moderation. Forgive me, I do not mean to come off as suppressive or anything like that, I am just so passionate about helping others see the truth. What I am thinking is, if you know have the knowledge that TikTok is ruining your mental health, in fact your entire life, don’t you want to do something about it? To conclude my article I want to encourage you all to go cold turkey from social media for at least a day, you will not regret it. It might feel exhaustive or even like torture at first but you will experience and feel the difference this makes in your life. This is your life we are talking about would you want to remain a slave to TikTok, to your addiction?

I myself am a logical person, I like to think of things in terms of logic, but it is not good to forget the sentimental aspect of life. In terms of logic and ‘emotion’, using TikTok for long hours and as often as most people do, please take this message to heart and think about it, hear it and think about it with urgency.