Psychologists are concerned about the impact that TikTok could have on children’s brains and, as a result, several studies have emerged. This time, a report reveals that social media can harm children’s brains and negatively affect their attention span.
Fast and dynamic content promotes disinterest in longer activities.
The consumption of social networks by young people is, every day, normalized. Of the many available, TikTok is the one that seems to garner the most supporters, and psychologists are worried. For this reason, studies have been conducted to prove their theories.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, mentioned by the New York Post, the way children consume social media, especially TikTok, could affect their attention span. After all, the social network is successful for short videos.
It’s hard to look at the growing trends in social media consumption of all kinds, multitasking, and rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among young people and not conclude that there is a decrease in their attention span.
Says Carl Marci, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital.
While the link between ADHD and screen time is not unanimous, studies suggest that the fast, short videos that children consume are, in part, responsible for disinterest in long activities that involve recurring practice.
Kids are used to the dynamics of TikTok
The study that led to the report looked at the influence of personalized videos on the brain, compared to random videos. The participants’ MRIs showed that the part of the brain associated with addiction woke up stealthily during personalized videos. In fact, some users have shown difficulty controlling when they need to stop watching.
Knowing that activities that require attention and concentration, such as math problems, use the part of the brain responsible for decision-making and impulse control (prefrontal cortex), this becomes complicated for children. Indeed, according to the Wall Street Journal, this part of your brain is not fully developed until adulthood, from the age of 25.
Directed attention is the ability to inhibit distractions and maintain attention and divert attention appropriately. This requires higher-order skills such as planning and prioritization.
If children’s brains get used to the constant changes, the brain struggles to adapt to a non-digital activity where things don’t move as fast.
Said Michael Manos, clinical director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Child Care and Learning.
In the opinion of John Hutton, a pediatrician and director of the Reading & Literacy Discovery Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, TikTok is “a dopaminergic machine” and if children have to be careful, “they have to train.”
For his part, James Williams, an expert in technological ethics and author of “Stand Out of Our Light”: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy, considers that it is “as if we had made children live in a confectionery and then they were told to skip all these sweets and eat a plate of vegetables.