Opinion: TikTok is dialing up addiction to social media

The musical platform isn’t just the next big app. It might just be too captivating.


Photo illustration

Hailey Marx, Columnist

TikTok is a social-media platform that was released in September 2016, but didn’t gain notable, worldwide attention until 2019. Users can create videos ranging from 15 to 60 seconds and edit them, utilizing cut scenes, visual effects, and song overlays.

The reason it has taken off is due to the inner workings of the app itself. It’s different enough from other social media — such as Snapchat, Vine, and Instagram — to stand out, but not so far off that its place online seems foreign, just more futuristic.

Other mainstream social media is limited to the main draw it created in the beginning. But with TikTok, it combined aspects from other platforms into a monstrosity. 

The app allows users to gain followers, but more easily. It uses hashtags, but more so. Its design keeps users constantly on their toes, creating a mega platform with each follower gained and challenged.

TikTok is uniquely addictive in its design, and nearly invincible in its influence.

The user experience makes it so it’s almost impossible to put down the phone. As written in The Atlantic, it’s easy to get caught up watching so many videos on end until “you’re about to have a brain freeze.”

TikTok is uniquely addictive in its design, and nearly invincible in its influence.

It’s also hard to escape this trend due to the ubiquitous billboard-esque advertising. The marketing plan took off because the app merged with Musical.ly, which had gained popularity among adolescents before it developed into TikTok. So naturally, the same audience shifted over and the new app has seen success and many videos are going viral. 

Users endlessly create videos, hoping that at least one will go viral. That feeds into the reputation that TikTok is addictive.

The app has reached a niche of people, typically adolescents, who gravitate toward living online. This group has allowed people to reach further within to expand their digital universe. However, just as the platform has reached a niche group of people, it also provides a wide variety of material that attracts many different types of interests. 

It not only provides a platform for people to look for amusing videos — it’s a hub for business, fitness, and other life-enhancing tips. Also on the other spectrum, people who do not want to promote anything just post videos of their pets.

Writer Brittany Spanos did an experiment with TikTok for Rolling Stone. She downloaded the app and performed an experiment for herself. She wondered how long it would take for her to get addicted. She explained she was hooked on the first day. 

The reason behind the rage was because her feed was filled with absurd, hysterical content. The appeal wasn’t reasonable, it was ridiculous. Spanos said she “actively laughed thanks to the internet in a long, long time, thanks to TikTok.” She further commented that she would likely be thinking of some videos for the “rest of my life.”

TikTok has certainly taken off, especially in younger generations. The use in this app has been more frequent than any other social-media platform, and is still going strong years later.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.