New study identifies most definitive signs of ‘TikTok addiction’


Social media platform TikTok has exploded in popularity and now has over a billion monthly active users worldwide. But new research published in the journal Addictive behaviors points out that some individuals can develop a pathological addiction to the platform.

Numerous studies have examined the negative psychological impact of excessive Facebook use. But there is relatively little research on TikTok, which became available outside of China in 2017. The authors of the current study set out to determine whether measures of so-called “Facebook addiction” were relevant to TikTok.

“After jokingly telling my wife that she was obsessed with TikTok and WhatsApp, I spoke to two people who described their interaction with teenagers they considered to be ‘addicted’ to social media or the internet”, explained study author Troy Smith of the University. of Trinidad and Tobago.

“One person pointed out that her son seemed nervous, refused to eat and even tried to lie to access social networking sites (SNS) when he was restricted. This was particularly timely, as only a few months ago, there were several cases of death or harm among teenagers associated with TikTok challenges.

“During my initial search of the existing literature, I revealed that although there has been a rapid rise in TikTok rivaling that of Facebook, studies of its use were limited and there were no of scale to measure its maladaptive use,” Smith said. “However, I wanted to find out how common these addiction-like behaviors associated with TikTok use were and deepen my understanding of the underlying mechanisms.”

The study analyzed data from 354 students, including 173 TikTok users and 313 Facebook users.

Facebook users completed a scientifically validated questionnaire known as the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale, which assesses six criteria: Having obsessive thoughts about Facebook, feeling an increasing need to use Facebook, using Facebook to forget personal problems, trying to reduce Facebook use without success, becoming agitated or upset when Facebook is prohibited, and using Facebook to such an extent that it negatively impacts school or work. TikTok users completed a modified version of the scale, in which the word “Facebook” was replaced with “TikTok”.

As expected, higher scores on the TikTok addiction scale were associated with more intense use of the platform. Using a statistical technique known as latent profile analysis, which allows grouping of individuals with similar response patterns, the researchers ranked the majority of TikTok users (68.2%) as having “no no risk” of TikTok addiction, 25.4% rated as “low risk” and 6.4% rated as “at risk”.

Consistent with previous research on Facebook addiction, Smith and colleagues found that “at-risk” TikTok users tended to score higher on measures of loneliness and extroversion. Female TikTok users were also more likely to be at risk than male users.

“Although most users appear to use TikTok in an unproblematic way, the study demonstrates that the risk of overuse and possible problematic use exists and is associated with addiction-like behaviors that can potentially negatively impact life. people with the disease,” said Smith. PsyPost.

“Furthermore, the study highlights that although similarities exist between the addiction process on Facebook and TikTok, there are significant differences in the manifestation, predictors, and intensity of use associated with average use compared to problematic usage As such, a user may exhibit problematic usage on a specific platform and not have the same unsuitable response with the broader social media category.

“It also suggests that the most definitive signs of addiction are that the user becomes nervous, irritable, anxious, or exhibits strong feelings of sadness when deprived of access to the social networking site (withdrawal) and the user’s attempts to control their participation in the SNS are failure (relapse),” Smith noted.

Bergen’s Facebook addiction scale has already been adapted to study problematic Instagram use, and the newly validated TikTok scale provides researchers with a valuable tool to better understand maladaptive uses of the video platform.

“Current literature on problematic TikTok use is limited, however, validating a problematic use scale for TikTok creates an opportunity for other researchers to study the phenomenon,” Smith explained. “This is important because using a valid scale adds credibility to future work and a standard measurement means studies can be compared and patterns more easily identified.”

“While the SNS can be a useful means of social interaction, communication, and artistic expression, its use as an escape mechanism can be harmful because it does not address any underlying psychological issues such as loneliness and low self-esteem,” Smith added. “However, it can create new problems due to the harmful effects of problematic use and the literature also suggests that it can increase the risk of cybercrime victimization. Additionally, heavy use of SNS by adolescents should be viewed with caution as it may be a signal for other psychological issues that may require intervention.

The study, “Affordance Needs as a Key Driver of the Likelihood of Problematic Social Media Use: Validation, Latent Profile Analysis, and Comparison of Problematic Use Measures of TikTok and Facebook,” was authored by Troy Smith and Andy Short.


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