If you’re a teenager in 2021, you are probably on your phone for hours a day, swiping your thumb across the screen and watching endless videos. TikTok has captured the attention of millions of adolescents across America with its easily accessible videos and individually-tailored content.
However, it is easy to get caught overconsuming this media, losing track of time in the instant gratification aspect of the app. Deleting the app for a week was a difficult prospect for me. I didn’t know what I would do when I was bored or if I’d be able to keep TikTok off my phone. Within the first 15 minutes of deleting the app, I caught myself tapping the vacant space where TikTok used to be on my phone. I did the same thing again 15 minutes later and numerous more times throughout the rest of the first day. When I was bored or between tasks, I found myself wanting to go on TikTok. It was hardwired in my brain to use it whenever possible.
By the second day, I was still accidentally clicking on TikTok’s previous space on my phone. Even as I was doing homework, I found that any time I went on my phone, I would try to go on the app. TikTok is typically filler content for me when I’m not consuming other media like watching a TV show, but seeing that I was tempted to use it while working changed my perspective on it. I realized that if I had been able to use the app during this time, I would’ve just been scrolling, watching videos for upwards of 30 minutes at a time instead of doing homework.
When I was bored at home, rather than going on TikTok, I would read a book or watch an episode of a show. Even though I was still getting distracted from my work, I wasn’t reverting to content that would have me lose track of time and inevitably deter my schedule. Usually, it’s impossible for me to set a time limit on my TikTok usage. I’d say, “five more minutes” until hours had gone by.
When that opportunity was taken away, my time and work management skills improved. With all the time that magically appeared in my day, I was much less stressed. I was able to get work done quicker and spend my free time doing things that wouldn’t affect daily tasks the way TikTok did when I would unknowingly end up using it for hours.
In addition to having more free time and being more productive, my sleep wasn’t affected by the app as it typically would be. On a normal day, I would go on TikTok when I was going to bed. This was the time when it was easiest for me to lose track of how long I was using the app. I deemed it relaxation and therefore didn’t think sleep was a priority.
However, the long periods spent staring at my screen before sleep were anything but relaxing. The constant stimulation kept me awake and animated, making for sleeping troubles and a typical bedtime of 1 a.m.
After deleting the app, I started reading before bed. Without a screen to distract my mind for hours, I was able to unwind peacefully.
At first, I thought I wouldn’t be able to go without TikTok. The app’s entertaining nature made me think that my time spent without it would be time that I wished I could use it. However, after seeing how much my work habits and sleep improved without it, I realized deleting the app was worth it, as my daily life became better.