Why Has Tik Tok Become Extremely Addictive?

By Alan Ramirez, Branden Richards, and Gabriel Gonzalez

We’d like to first give a huge thank you to Dr. Assaf for clearing time in her busy schedule to talk with us and share her expertise with us on our topic. She was a huge help and provided a lot of insight into the topic of our study. 

Discussion with Dr. Elise Assaf

Dr. Elise Assaf (Communications)

What Is Your Current Knowledge On The Social Media Platform, Tik Tok?

We began our interview by asking Dr. Assaf about what her prior knowledge on Tik Tok was. Her answer was that although she has heard a lot about Tik Tok and finds herself learning a lot about it in her field of communications she did not have the app herself. She also acknowledged that her previous knowledge on the app was anecdotal. This question was followed by a conversation by Brendan about the addiction of social media itself. Brendan expressed his love/hate relationship with Tik Tok which entails him downloading the app. Then realizing he has been on it way too long and deleting it. Then later out of boredom downloading the app again. Assaf related with us and expressed how sometimes when she opens up Instagram and notices that there isn’t anything new to look at she feels a little sense of frustration as well as wondering where new content is as well as sometimes trying to search herself for new content.

Social Media Apps Downloaded In 2018, Source: MediaKix

Assaf then shared another interesting aspect of her life that involved her 3 year old son. She explained how she had to delete YouTube Kids because of how dependent he was becoming for it. Her deleting YouTube Kids was especially hard during the pandemic when there wasn’t much else to do. Assaf  then brings up a really good point which related to our topic which was the addictiveness of the algorithm by applications like YouTube Kids and Tik Tok. She said not only is it super addictive because the mind is continuously being fed new content but it can also be dangerous because of what can be in the content. Brendan followed up by expressing his respect to her for taking away YouTube kids because of how hard that could probably be. Dr. Assaf did say it had been an interesting experience.  

Regulating Her Kids’ Social Media

This rolled into a question that Brendan asked which was “When your kids are older do you think you will regulate social media for them?”. Assaf made a very good point which was that we don’t even know what social media is going to look like in the future but that knowing that at the age of 3 she has already had to regulate screen time for her son that she does think there will be a type of regulation later. She brings up the fact that her son showed a lot of addictive traits when taking away YouTube Kids. Assaf said that her son would become very frustrated with ads, buffering videos, as well as Wi-Fi problems that would sometimes occur. These traits were proof to her that she had to do something.

Average Age For Tik Tok Users, Source: Global Web

What Is The Biggest Concern For Millennials and Tik Tok?

Our next question for Dr. Assaf was “what do you think is the biggest concern for millennials and Tik Tok?”. Assaf’s answer was that she thought the main issue with millennials and Tik Tok and social media in general was that our younger generation is not only getting used to getting news fast but now requiring it. The problem with this is that not only is news not always delivered at such speed but also that requiring news to be delivered so fast can lead to rushed stories. Another issue is with this need for quickness many don’t take the time to read about the whole story instead just browsing or only reading the story lines. 

How Important Is It For Kids To Stay Up With Trends?

Alan then asked if Dr. Assaf thought if it was important for kids to stay updated on current trends. She explained that it was very important for her because it was part of her job as a communications professor. Assaf also explained that for audiences she does think that it can become problematic but that she also thinks that we are too far into staying current with trends to reverse the need to be updated on them. She didn’t think that if we as a society wanted to stop keeping up with trends that we would be able to. Alan followed up with another question which was “Do you think being up to date with trends makes one more successful?”. Assaf said absolutely, she explained that not only does one need to stay up to date with trends but also learn to be ahead of trends as well as adapt to changing trends leads to success. 

Difference Between Millennials and Communications Major Staying Up With Trends

Dr. Assaf explained that there is a difference between millennials and Communications major in staying up with all the new trends. She believes that it can actually harm millennials or social media consumers if they keep expecting more and more trends. She believes that by wanting more as consumers, you’re hurting your expectations about social media. Although she states that keeping up with trends is harmful to some audiences, she believes that as Communications major it is expected and desired for them to stay up with all these new trends. She explains that many clients or other groups of people exert this pressure onto Communications majors like Journalists to stay up to trend because they always want to keep releasing the newest topics/trends before anybody else 

Giving Us Tips For Our Research Project And How To Go Forward

Brandon then ends with asking how we as a group could show Tik Tok being addictive using the screen time app on our phones. Assaf states that we could easily compare and contrast our screen times from different apps like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat to that of use with Tik Tok. For example if an app like Facebook states we only use it for an hour a day, while on Tik Tok we spend 6 hours a day. We could easily see the comparison between the two and how this could support our initial question of the addictiveness of Tik Tok. Dr. Assaf also states that there could be issues with asking this question because there could been issues that would prevent screen time use throughout one’s phone like work or homework and that could minimize the time to spent on it. Although it would lower the time, she stated that we could ask questions on what happened throughout the week that prevented screen time use to get a glimpse if there was a disruption or distraction.

Zoom Meeting With Dr. Assaf

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