How does TikTok affect our mental health?

Tik Tok It is the social video network favored by a younger audience where users can create, view and interact with content Short videos. The app has seen a huge increase in popularity in 2020 with 3 million downloads per day. It now has over a billion users, most of them Teens and young adults Who watch quick videos of humor, beauty, fashion, sports or games, and of course, advice on mental health.

a analysis The content of just 100 popular #mentalhealth videos on TikTok shows that they have 1.3 billion views and over 266 million likes. How can all this content affect society?

According to the first-of-its-kind study by computer science researchers at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, the social media platform and its unique algorithm can act as a refuge and barrier for users struggling with their mental state.

TikTok has shown an alarming trend of frequently exposing users to content that may be harmful to their mental health.

during User interviews From TikTok, a team from the University of Minnesota discovered, where it has gone viral in a launchthat the platform gave many people an idea Self discovery And the community they couldn’t find on other social media platforms. However, the researchers said TikTok’s algorithm also showed a worrying trend of repeatedly exposing users to content that could be harmful to their mental health.

“TikTok is misunderstood by people who don’t use the platform,” he explained. Stevie Chancellor, lead author of the paper and assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota. “They think of it as the platform for dancing or the place where they get diagnosed with ADHD. Our research shows that TikTok helps people find information about mental health and community. But, people also have to account for their algorithms, How do they work, and when does the system provide them with things that are detrimental to their well-being.”

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The algorithm thought of you

TikTok differs from other social media platforms in that it is primarily run with a file algorithm Recommendation system that shows videos that it thinks you will like feed “For You”, instead of showing mainly posts from the accounts you follow. While this can be great for showing you more content you like, it can also lead to a “terrier” negative content The researchers said that it is almost impossible to escape from it.

Researchers have found that when users enter malicious spirals of negative content, they often have no escape.

“TikTok is a great platform for mental health content,” he said. Ashley Miltonfirst author of the article and a PhD in computer science and engineering from the University of Minnesota: “People tend to gravitate toward social networks to find information and other people who are going through similar situations. Many of our participants talked about how useful this mental health information is. But at some point, because which way feed, will continue to bring more and more of the same content. And then it can go from useful to nerve-wracking and nerve-wracking.”

Researchers have found that when users get sucked into harmful spirals of negative content, there is often no way out. TikTok’s interface includes a “Not Interested” button, but study participants said it made no difference to what content appeared on their pages. feeds.

One of our participants jokingly referred to “For You” as a “dopamine slot machine.”Ashley Milton

Research participants also expressed difficulty distinguishing when TikTok creators are genuinely posting extreme mental or emotional health content, or whether they are simply “chasing the mess” to get more followers and likes. Many of the participants were forced to take breaks or stop using the platform altogether due to the stress it was causing them.

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According to researchers at the University of Minnesota, all of them This does not mean that TikTok is evil. But they said it’s useful information to keep in mind when using the platform, especially for mental health purposes.

“One of our participants jokingly referred to ‘for you’ as a ‘dopamine slot machine,'” he said. Milton. “They talked about how they keep scrolling so they can get to a good job because they don’t want to end up in a bad post. It’s important to be able to recognize what’s going on and say, ‘Okay, let’s not do that.’”

Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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