Mental Health Awareness
3 Easy Actions To Fight TikTok Addiction
It’s all part of my selective ignorance strategy.
I’m not surprised anymore. I know social media apps like TikTok and Facebook are seeking my attention. These apps are using many techniques to keep us connected all day long. It is addictive.
While writing an important document, We all experienced a smartphone located beside the coffee cup at reaching distance, waking up suddenly to notify that a friend just liked a post. Such an important event that it totally justified the distraction, didn’t it?
Another example is when we wanted to look at the clock on the smartphone screen and ended up clicking on this notification about someone following you on your fully dedicated social media platform.
Well, these two events are exactly what TikTok, Facebook, and other apps intend to do. The few seconds I was initially planning on spending on my phone, all of a sudden, is transformed into minutes, even hours.
That is a perfectly lucrative strategy used by social media apps to monetize our attention with advertisers.
The problem is such that taking too much of our attention is affecting our life. It impacts the ability to focus on tasks and prevent us from learning new knowledge or even planning for our future.
To remedy, it is essential to understand how social media apps attempt to monopolize our attention and, consequently, act.
The Art of Satisfaction
Social media apps play with human nature, or more precisely, they are playing with our primitive instincts to captivate our attention and change our behavior.
Neuromarketing relates to how to influence one’s behavior by triggering the deep layers of the brain. In other words, it is how to manipulate our primal impulsive instincts to keep us hooked and buy more products.
Generally speaking, all human behaviors are driven by emotions and rewards. As Humans, we are seeking experiences that make us laugh and cry. We are looking for moments that make us feel emotions.
For instance, do you remember when you were invited to your friend’s for a horror movie night? It was terrifying, but it was still fun, right? I bet it felt good afterward.
This is because emotions can be gratifying on different levels, emphasizing the feeling of satisfaction and pleasure that we all seek.
A satisfied customer is a customer that is likely to come back.
Gratifications and Reward
Gratifications, i.e., feelings of pleasure triggered by dopamine release used to retain attention, have been well-described.
Content gratification — is closely linked to the quality of media information. If the user judges that the current content is of higher quality than previous others, the user will be satisfied with the content and will thus remain to use the app.
Social gratification relates to the possibility of connecting with other users by following them, liking their content, or even chatting with them will bring social gratification by satisfying the need for social interaction.
Process gratification — occurs when searching for specific items or to pass the time. Users receive gratification mainly for being in the process of searching, surfing, or browsing the apps and having fun with it. The user will be satisfied with the process of using it.
Technology gratification — refers to the convenience and ease to use provided by technological environments. Having TikTok and Facebook at our fingertips on our mobile smartphones is driving up our satisfaction level.
From Attention-Seeking to Addiction
TikTok, Facebook, and other social media apps are doing everything they can to boost your satisfaction, which keeps you hooked to their screens.
Indeed, the tremendous amount of collected data about your daily activities, behavior, and tastes is grandly contributing to improving the algorithm that picks the content “just for you.”
When you finally managed to close the app — thanks to an inner force — a red dot with numbers in it appears at the upper right corner of the icon. Unfortunately for us, we perceive the red color as very attractive. It ensures that we will return and check it out eventually.
Oops, I did it again. Just for a few minutes, then I close it — I silently told myself. Even if it began with a sincere intention, I would likely end up spending a few extra minutes on the app. According to an interesting study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Communication, the explanation of such behavior relies on that we, humans, love switching tasks on computers.
The study suggests that we actually switch tasks every 19 seconds on average, which, phrasing differently, is how long we currently focus on a single digital task before jumping to the next one. Biologically, we experience a neurological “high,” i.e., arousal, every time we switch tasks. This wave of pleasure similarly occurs every time a new content appears on your screen when scrolling down. This “high” is what makes us keep scrolling.
Selective Ignorance Hack
Attention-seeking behaviors are toxic in general. Nothing good can ever come out of it. These apps became so good at seeking your attention and getting us hooked up that we tend to forget our life priorities.
If I look closely on the street, I will find parents paying more attention to their phones than their kids. I will see drivers looking at their phones instead of the road. A lack of focus and attention causes risky behaviors.
It seems that children and mobile apps have similar behavior in the sense that they both have attention-seeking behaviors. This is a natural behavior in developing a child but should it be for a smartphone app?
Psychologists recommend “selective ignorance” when kids use “bad” behavior to get your attention. This technique has been proven to drive the kid to use a positive attitude if they‘d like to get your attention. Why not use a similar approach for attention-seeking social media apps.
1. Leave it Behind
The first thing to do is move to another room, leaving your smartphone or mobile devices behind you. The mere presence of one’s own smartphone reduces available cognitive capacity, concluded Ward and his colleagues. In other words, if I‘m in the same room as my smartphone, I will be distracted even if the latter is turned off and face down. Smartphones and mobile tech devices are acting as “high priority stimuli, draining unconsciously attentional resources.
2. Select “Humane” Apps
Ideally, apps that favor human interaction without the intervention of artificial intelligence should be prioritized. For instance, I connect with other human people using “Signal.” This messaging app is ultrasecure, privacy-oriented, and ad-free. My attention is only focused on the person(s) I communicate with and not distracted by apps that are intriguingly related to my discussion topic.
Every operating system offers the option to select which app can send notifications. I disable all notifications except the Signal and phone call. I never felt such relief before. It is like recovering time that I can actually use to do something meaningful — Mind-blowing change.
It takes only 3 actions to feel the change. Three little actions that will get your time and attention back. It will help rewire your experience with attention-seeking apps such as TikTok, Facebook, and other social media and technology devices. I tried this selective ignorance strategy, and I’m happy to report that it changed my life.