If your child’s attention span has gotten shorter than ever, they may be suffering from TikTok brain.
The phenomenon describes scientists’ explanation of why today’s kids are having trouble concentrating even on things they used to enjoy, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
Experts say the short-form video content TikTok delivers triggers a dopamine release in the brain, causing kids and teens to get addicted to digital content.
Add to that the fact that the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that helps make decisions and control impulses, isn’t developed until age 25 – and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for young people to focus on longer non-digital activities like reading and homework.
“In the short-form snackable world, you’re getting quick hit after quick hit, and as soon as it’s over, you have to make a choice,” said Boston-based psychiatrist Dr. Carl Marci, author of “Rewired: Protecting Your Brain in the Digital Age.”
“It is hard to look at increasing trends in media consumption of all types, media multitasking and rates of ADHD in young people and not conclude that there is a decrease in their attention span,” Marci told WSJ.
Some of Marci’s fellow medical experts and researchers echoed his words.
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“We speculate that individuals with lower self-control ability have more difficulty shifting attention away from favorite video stimulation,” the researchers at China’s Zhejiang University wrote.
“TikTok is a dopamine machine,” said John Hutton, a pediatrician and director of the Reading & Literacy Discovery Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. “If you want kids to pay attention, they need to practice paying attention.”
For its part, TikTok has said it’s taking steps to try and help combat TikTok brain among kids – including prohibiting users under 15 from being able to receive push notifications after 9 p.m.
Experts say parents can work to combat TikTok brain by capping children’s screen time, engaging them in activities like exercise and playing outside, and removing devices from their rooms at night.
Dr. Johann Hari, author of “Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention—and How to Think Deeply Again,” cautioned against taking children off digital sites altogether.
“Depriving kids of tech doesn’t work, but simultaneously reducing it and building up other things, like playing outside, does,” Dr. Hari said.
PHOTO: Credit: Jezperklauzen