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TikTok On the Clock

By Frances Lin

The increased popularity of short-form media such as TikTok, since its launch in 2016, and Instagram reels from people becoming more secluded though the pandemic has affected many people’s attention spans.

Unlike traditional YouTube videos, which require viewers to watch an advertisement before viewing desired content, TikTok and Instagram provide content immediately. Constant information available at the scroll of a thumb provides instant gratification, making short videos more likely to get viewers hooked. In contrast to long forms of media such as 10-minute YouTube videos, short forms of media such as TikTok clips can convey the majority of the main idea in less than 20 seconds. This has allowed users to watch up to 50 videos in 10 minutes instead of just one.

Source by Sabeena Ramdarie

The popular app TikTok glows on a student's phone, luring the user back in for a few more minutes of scrolling.

Some believe this is extremely dangerous for users as it results in entering an endless loop of continuous swiping.

“I think what’s unique about short-form media is that you’re provided with content right away, and it satisfies the brain in the moment, which is something long form media can’t provide users with. For example, instead of watching 30-minute episodes for a show on television, you can watch it in two minutes on TikTok,” junior Pari Shah said.

Short-form media can overload users’ cognition with excessive information and reduce their attention span. This can lead to issues in other areas such as work and school, where undivided attention is required to perform intensive tasks. This can cause problems with students’ social interactions, schoolwork, sleep and self-esteem. Some teachers at New Hyde Park Memorial High School have also noticed a change in their students’ academic and social lives as a result of the rise of short-form media.

“Social media in general has greatly impacted academics because it’s a complete distraction in class, and I feel that students are relying on their phones as 24-hour entertainment. Students are putting social media ahead of their social interactions, school work and sleep—all of which are affecting their self-esteem and mental well-being,” art department chairperson Dr. Marino said.

“Without a doubt, there has been a noticeable difference in the attention spans of students here at New Hyde Park since the rise of short-form content,” social studies teacher Mr. Laugen said. “It seems as though anything that requires a longer span of attention, thought, or concentration tends to pose a real challenge to students. I first realized just how much TikTok, and our devices in general, have impacted students socially when walking through our cafeteria during a crowded lunch period a few years back. Instead of talking and socializing face to face, everyone was staring at their phones, socializing and communicating that way.”


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