Is social media ruining our attention spans?

One of our writers discusses how social media has affected our concentration.

Mia Dale
6th November 2023
Image credit: Pixabay @Firmbee
We’re all guilty of endlessly scrolling through TikTok and Instagram reels, wasting hours of our lives being consumed by mindless content. But I don’t think we realise the effect this is having on our concentration… 

The rise of TikTok happened very quickly, and immediately had us captivated. With everyone’s ‘for you page’ consisting of videos tailored to their own interests, our generation has been hooked, and its effects are quite daunting. This app is shaping how young people see the world, constantly overloading their minds with information and moulding their perceptions and opinions.

With this load of constant information, our attention spans are weakening, as we are consuming an increased amount of media in such short, contained videos. This is having a direct impact on students’ ability to concentrate in day-to-day life, particularly when studying or reading.  

This app is shaping how young people see the world, constantly overloading their minds with information

With its new ‘speed up’ feature, which allows you to watch videos in 2x speed, our attention spans are only getting worse. TikTok videos average at around 32 seconds anyway, so the fact that we can’t even concentrate for this long is quite concerning. I’m not criticising people here though - I hate to admit it, but I genuinely can’t watch a TikTok video longer than 15 seconds as I simply don’t have the patience. I will rapidly scroll through video after video, sometimes only watching 3 seconds of each. I’m aware that this is an unhealthy habit that is inevitably going to impact our work ethic, but it is so additive, which is why it’s so dangerous. 

It's not our fault that we are growing up in a progressive, media-driven society – we are victims of the chaotic modern world, and this is ultimately impacting our minds. However, we do still have agency over ourselves, so maybe we need to start recognising the impact of the media, particularly TikTok, and hold on to the attention we have left.

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