TikTok Shortens Children’s Attention Span

The effects of consuming social media aren’t all good, and a new report indicates that when children spend time on TikTok it negatively affects their attention spans.

Researchers used MRI scans to show study participants had high activation in the addiction part of the brain when watching personalized (as opposed to general-interest) TikTok videos, and some users struggled to control when to stop watching. In general, activities that require sustained attention use the part of the brain responsible for decision-making and impulse control known as the prefrontal cortex. Kids can struggle with directed attention because their prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed until age 25.

Dr. Michael Manos with the Cleveland Clinic adds, “If kids’ brains become accustomed to constant changes, the brain finds it difficult to adapt to a non-digital activity where things don’t move quite as fast.” The Wall Street Journal reports that TikTok uses an algorithm to personalize the video feeds based on the time a user watches each video and then cycles similar content. But a TikTok spokesperson recently said the company is now working on ways for the algorithm to diversify its videos, and they’re also working on reducing excessive app time.

Experts say your child needs practice to learn to pay attention, and some simple strategies to increase their attention-span include encouraging exercise and play time, but being sure not to deprive them of technology, and instead encourage them to reduce their use of it by building up other activities.  (Fox)