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Five things I learned after deleting TikTok for a week

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

Spoiler alert: deleting TikTok was not the solution to all my problems

To be completely honest, my decision to delete TikTok for a week came from a place of insecurity and a lack of self-understanding. I woke up one Monday and before I could think of anything else I deleted the app – something I hadn’t done since I first downloaded the app in 2020 when we all went into quarantine. To me, deleting TikTok sounded like something that would increase my levels of productivity, boost to my mental health, and provide a solution to every problem I had been facing – I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

While a week might not seem long, the average TikTok user opens the app 8 times a day and watches at least 95 minutes worth of videos. Most of us spend our week consuming all kinds of content on TikTok that affects us on various levels. Several studies have identified TikTok’s negative effects on mental health and attention span, and countless of articles discuss the benefits of deleting the app – many describe it as a “life changing” experience. 

To me, deleting TikTok was not a life-altering experience. Not having the app at my reach did not do any of the things I expected it to do, but it did teach me five lessons that all of us need to hear in a time where social media is extremely prevalent in our lives.

1. TikTok is not the only thing ruining our attention spans and mental health.

Yes, TikTok has been shown to contribute to a decrease in attention span and poorer mental health, but it is important that we acknowledge the several other factors that play into this. TikTok gained a lot of its popularity around the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and the majority of individuals on the platform are 10-19 years old. Not only did the pandemic significantly contribute to poor mental health outcomes and has created problems in attention due to it alterations in schooling, but this age group is also still developing and is therefore more susceptible to experiencing these effects. I think we try to pinpoint TikTok as a root cause for many of concerns teenagers and young adults face, but it’s important that we look beyond just the app when considering well-being and how we can implement solutions.

2. To notice a difference, we probably need to delete all social media.

I was almost convinced that deleting one app would be a permanent solution, but I failed to consider that other social media apps have the same effects on us. Instead of scrolling through TikTok, I found myself reaching for other apps and mindlessly scrolling. It’s important to address that if we fully wanted to remove the effects that TikTok has on individuals we would have to delete every social media app, too.

3. Our generation relies on social media more than we think we do.

Many aspects of our lives are governed by social media and the content we take in daily. From the news we get to the clothes we wear, even the words we use, these are influenced by social media – and for many of us, predominantly TikTok. While off TikTok, I found myself Googling more things and at times questioning the words some of my friends were using. We live in a fast-paced society that relies on social media to be able to keep up with these fast changes. 

4. Your screen-time could decrease as much as you want it to, but that doesn’t mean you will use your time more productively.

I am a strong proponent of watching my screen-time and spending time off my phone. I knew that deleting TikTok would decrease my screen-time, but what I didn’t expect was that I wouldn’t use that time in more productively. Time on our phones is considered a “break,” and I thought that by deleting TikTok I would force myself to take less breaks and spend more time on homework or studying. Instead, I used this time to read or catch up on shows. You can’t force productivity by taking away things that you enjoy.

5. You won’t miss the app as much as you think you will.

Maybe I didn’t rely on the app as much as I thought I did, but spending a week off of TikTok was not something that made me miss it or want to re-download it. There are so many other things that we can do with our time, and at the end of the day, the app is just another platform that we fall to for entertainment.

Deleting TikTok for a week was not the solution to everything. After reading countless of articles that shared how much the platform affects us daily, I was surprised when my experience seemed to show the opposite. I think it is extremely important to unplug from social media, but removing it completely might not be necessary if we begin to look inwards. 

Anita is a second-year public health and biology major with a minor in health disparities on the pre-med track! She has a passion for promoting equity in the medical field and hopes to share this through her writing. When she's not busy writing or studying you can often find her taking cycle classes, travelling, bullet journaling, and reading!