I think my attention span has significantly decreased, and it is my hypothesis that tiktok is a large contributing factor to this. Tiktok is comprised of short, snappy videos designed to grab the watcher’s attention and keep hold of it for maximum 3 minutes (though usually much shorter), and because there are 1 billion monthly users worldwide (reported by tiktok in 2021) competition for attention is huge.
Prior to downloading tiktok I had been able to, for example, read an entire book in a sitting, and now I can barely watch a 20 minute video despite being interested in the topic. It is my belief that hours of scrolling on tiktok, where every 10 seconds a new trend or sound has been popularised, has affected attention span drastically. It is not only I who has noticed this; it is a common phenomenon amongst teenagers who spend a large amount of time on tiktok. According to a 2021 article by The Science Times, people who use the app for over 90 minutes a day can narrow their attention span over time. Though I’m sure there must be other factors that affect attention span, I definitely think my ability to consume slower media (such as films or even youtube videos) has declined. This is a shame as much of the content on tiktok is menial, whereas the videos I used to watch on youtube were often informative.
Researchers from the Technical University of Denmark calculated that a 2013 hashtag on average trended for 17.5 hours, but in 2016, a top hashtag only stayed for an average of 11.9 hours. This suggests that the trend cycle is accelerating.
I think it is also significant that users on tiktok know to market their videos to younger audiences, with loud noises and colours to keep the attention span for the duration of their video. With 10-19 year olds being the largest group of tiktokers in the US, and 47.4% of TikTok users in the US being below 30, this is likely to be true. This means that users are shown addictive, attention grabbing content endlessly and so the need for content such as this increases.