The TikTok Effect is Causing Much Debate
The TikTok effect is a topic that has gained momentum in recent times, and as educational leaders and parents, we must understand its impacts on our daily lives. The platform uses a highly addictive algorithm that automatically plays the next video, keeping users engaged for hours. This constant stream of short videos has been linked to a reduction in attention span, as users become accustomed to consuming bite-sized pieces of information. Additionally, TikTok’s algorithm filters content based on user preferences, creating a “filter bubble” that reinforces their existing beliefs and reduces exposure to diverse perspectives. The combination of short-form content and personalized filtering can contribute to a decreased ability to concentrate and process complex information.
TikTok, Reading and Curiosity
To combat the TikTok effect, experts suggest reading books. Studies show that reading books has a range of psychological benefits. For instance, reading fiction can increase our capacity for empathy by helping us see the world through a relatable character’s eyes. Reading has also been found to reduce stress as effectively as yoga and can be used as a form of bibliotherapy for depression. In addition to these benefits, reading is a strong marker of curiosity, a quality that employers like Google prize. The development of curious minds through reading is essential, and this can be cultivated by putting aside time each day for reading.
Data from the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth provides valuable insights into the relationship between reading and curiosity. The surveys measure participants’ reading and curiosity levels through their scores in the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment tests for reading, mathematics, and science ability, as well as survey questions about time spent reading for pleasure, time reading newspapers or magazines, and library use.
TikTok Effect and Educational Benefits
It’s important to note that there is an opposing argument. One common online activity for teens, TikTok, may actually have educational benefits. Users design or imitate short dances and tumbling routines set to popular songs. Research has found a connection between music and movement with literacy, with skills in phonological awareness, sight word identification, and fluency improving through musical behaviors. By imitating dances on TikTok, kids are unwittingly increasing their reading skills and preparing for the real world. This discovery about TikTok’s educational benefits is particularly important during the pandemic, where many children are struggling with remote learning and limited social interaction.
However, as educational leaders and parents, we need to be aware of the role we play in being discriminatory consumers. It’s up to us to use social media responsibly and to ensure that we’re not perpetuating harmful behaviors or stereotypes. We can challenge ourselves to remain open-minded and critical of the information we consume, and to seek out diverse perspectives whenever possible.
Are the Concerns of TikTok Effect Overstated?
Some experts argue that TikTok’s impact on attention span may be overstated. They argue that while the platform may offer short-form content, it also encourages creativity and can help develop skills such as video editing and storytelling. Additionally, TikTok’s algorithmic filtering can also expose users to new and diverse content that they may not have discovered otherwise.
Some say TikTok Makes Kids into Better Readers. It turns out there’s a long history of scientific studies connecting music and movement with literacy.
Alice-Ann Darrow at Florida State University recently summarized some important research:
Parallel skills in music and reading include phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, sight word identification, orthographic awareness, cueing systems awareness, and fluency.Alice-Ann Darrow
There is evidence to show social media is having a surprising effect on how many books Americans are reading. According to a new study, nearly half of people choose what to read after hearing about it on social media. A survey of 1,000 Americans found TikTok is boosting the literacy rate among younger readers in the U.S. The entire Booktok phenonium is really getting young people reading and making it cool. There is a claim that “40% of people picked up a new book after hearing about it on social media.”
As the pandemic has shown, technology has the power to bring people together and offer new opportunities for learning and growth. By embracing these opportunities and using technology in responsible and innovative ways, we can create a more equitable and inclusive society where all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential. It’s important for educational leaders and parents to encourage children to engage with technology responsibly and to seek out educational opportunities on platforms like TikTok. We can support them in developing a healthy relationship with technology and help them become informed and responsible digital citizens.
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Internationally renowned for his expertise in education leadership, Greg Parry’s vast experience includes leadership of projects for education institutions throughout Australia, the Middle East, the United States, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and China. Recognised for his numerous contributions in the education arena, Greg has received the Ministers Award for Excellence in School Leadership based on improvements in school performance and a range of successful principal training and leadership development programs, as well as the School of Excellence Award for Industry/School Partnerships and the School of Excellence Award for Technology Innovation. His company GSE (Global Services in Education) has been recognised as having the Best Global Brand in International Education in 2015 and 2016.
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