Some days I think back to mid-quarantine: March 2020, stuck in my home and desperate for human contact, I downloaded Tik Tok.
At first, I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that I was trapped in my home, and I had to find something to do with my time before I lost my mind. On one end, Tik Tok was a gift. It gave numerous possibilities for entertainment, such as things to laugh about and distract myself with. Thanks to Tik Tok, I learned to crochet, bake bread, make whipped coffee, embroider and more. In the beginning, I felt connected with the world. We were all struggling together and sharing our experiences, and it was great, but then I noticed the amount of time I began spending on my phone.
If you own an Apple iPhone, you know that every week your phone gives you an update on how much time you’ve spent looking at your screen. During quarantine and after downloading Tik Tok, I noticed that I began to spend literal hours on end mindlessly watching one video after the next. At one point, my screen time was up to a horrifying 10 hours a day, and that’s when I knew that I had to make a change. Tik Tok was incredibly addicting to me, it was a quick fix for my bored mind. My solution to the excessive use of my phone was to put a time limit on Tik Tok. This meant that my phone would monitor how much time I was spending on the app and once I reached the limit I had set, a notification would pop up telling me that it was time to stop. In the beginning I held myself accountable but eventually it didn’t work very well. I could simply click the “Ignore the Limit ‘’ button and continue watching. My obsession became so much that I even deleted the app. However, eventually I would get bored enough to redownload the app and mindlessly start watching again.
When schools started but up again, I found myself taking online Zoom classes where I could barely pay attention. At first, I blamed it on the use of Zoom. Online classes could be so boring and when we returned to school, I thought there would be no problem with my ability to focus. I was wrong. There were moments where I couldn’t care less about what was happening in class, I just couldn’t keep myself focused. Even when I tried to study, I was checking my phone every five minutes, scrolling through Tik Tok trying to give myself any kind of distraction.
Technology has been a gift, as it connects us in so many ways and I have all the information in the world at my fingertips, but sometimes it truly scares me how sucked in we become. Our brains are being overloaded with constant information and it can be exhausting and overwhelming. Every day when I walk across campus, I watch people glide by with their eyes glued to their phone screens, oblivious to the world around them.
My advice is simple: look up and see the world around you. I still have Tik Tok on my phone, and I still scroll through it every day. But I have become more aware of the effects that it has had on me, and I try to hold myself accountable. It is so easy to click the “Ignore time limit” button, but I know that the benefit of spending time with my friends, reading books, cooking and doing all the amazing things that Tik Tok has taught me will be so much more rewarding.