Tuesday, May 30, 2023
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Will TikTok's new screen time limit really change anything?

The other day, I’ve been on TikTok for so long that I’m too embarrassed to write about it. During that time, I saw crazy plots about Nicola Bulley’s death, drama breakdowns about Selena Gomez and Hailey Bieber, and for some reason, about 1, A sick clip where a flea-infested dog is rescued from the side of the road. Afterwards, I felt deflated and a little anxious. The sky outside was getting darker. The world was spinning before I knew it, and I hadn’t had a breath of fresh air all day. How is this possible , I thought, my eye sockets were dry and hard.

Last week, TikTok announced that it would be implementing a daily screen limit for under-60 and I thought: hmmm, Surely this is a good thing? will automatically be set to a daily screen time limit of 60 minutes,” they wrote. Users will then be “prompted to enter a password to continue viewing.” Most teens just click passwords and go back to their #corecore and slime videos, but at least it temporarily interrupts the scrolling. Anything that stops scrolling. TikTok writes: “Studies show that being more aware of how we spend our time can help us be more conscious make a decision. In other words, conscious scrolling is better than mindless scrolling, perhaps because you’re more likely to take a break.

Feels a bit simplistic, like “The phone is… not good ”!!!” TikTok is so much fun to use. Unlike some other platforms, such as Instagram or Facebook, the energy on TikTok is generally more geared toward “laughing” rather than “look how awesome my life is compared to yours!” Little is known about the long-term effects of the platform on mental health. What we do know is not ideal. A study published by a nonprofit found that it took less than three minutes to see suicide-related content after creating a TikTok account, and five minutes to see content about eating disorders. Meanwhile, 16% of US teens say they use the app “almost often”. That is, uh, spending a lot of time doing one thing if your brain hasn’t developed yet?

On a more anecdotal level, it’s clear that TikTok has the ability to eat into our times in less than ideal ways. I used to enjoy listening to podcasts in the bathtub with my eyes closed, or lying on the graveyard grass on a hot day reading, or chopping dill and mixing it into yogurt with a good squeeze of lemon. I still love doing all of these things. But now they’re often interrupted by me picking up my phone for “a second” and swiping on TikTok and getting those neat little dopamine clicks, then forgetting what I’m doing and having to refocus. It doesn’t sound like a “wake up, flock” baby boomer sharing political illustrations on Facebook, but it feels a little depressing. Or mostly frustrating. It’s almost like we’ve been given a detach button, or something.




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