Opinion: TikTok Should Be Banned: Here’s Why

Ben Lance, Reporter

With recent events related to TikTok’s security concerns, including an appearance before the U.S. Congress and Florida colleges disallowing access to the app on Wi-Fi, there has been much discussion about whether this is warranted or out of proportion.

   With claims of risks to national security, it makes sense that officials across all aspects of life are on board to be down with the app. Congress banned TikTok from all government-issued devices in Dec. 2022 which President Biden then enforced in March 2023.

    Following a congressional hearing on March 23, which many have criticized for being “out of touch” or “straight from a South Park episode,” prestigious Florida colleges such as Florida State University and the University of Florida have banned students and staff from using the app on their internet.

   Much of Gen Z is protesting against these bans but it is crucial to take personal usage out of the equation and think: Is TikTok beneficial to society as a whole?

   The app has had a chokehold on society ever since it went mainstream in early 2020, boasting 1.05 billion active accounts as of today, but as the old saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

   TikTok is incredibly harmful to its users and it only gets worse the deeper you look. On its surface, the method in which content is presented allows for users to be instantly hooked. Getting a burst of dopamine roughly every 15 seconds is a sure fire way to never leave the app.

   Dr. Julie Albright confirms, “you’ll just be in this pleasurable dopamine state, carried away. It’s almost hypnotic, you’ll keep watching and watching” (Forbes). This contributes to the staggering amount of time the average user spends on the app each day: 95 minutes.

   Imagine the length of a movie broken up into over 380 short videos; that is how people spend their time. Combined with a sharp decrease in peoples’ average attention span on screens — 47 seconds, down from two and a half minutes in 2004 — TikTok truly has its users in its grasp.

   When looking into the content it gets even worse. On a brand new account with the user’s age set to 13 years old (the minimum), videos regarding poor mental health and unhealthy body image were shown every 39 seconds (CNN).

   Constant feeding of this content can quickly drill this harmful information into impressionable minds. Many Newsome students can testify that being shown negative content definitely has an effect on one’s outlook on life.

   Despite these flaws, other social media websites/applications have tried to emulate TikTok’s formula to varying degrees of success. Instagram introduced “Reels” in August 2020 and YouTube introduced “Shorts” in July 2021, both following the 15-second short-form content popularized by TikTok.

   Society would be better without TikTok. Even with funny cat videos or updates of musicians on tour, the bad truly outweighs the good every time.