Thanks to a recent update, TikTok now works as a side panel in your Opera desktop browser, so mindless scrolling never has to cease. Not to gloss over the shocking details about training practices at TikTok, but this feature could be a real game changer in the right situations. However, it could also cause massive distractions.
This isn’t the first time that Opera has out-featured its competition by quite a margin. In fact, the browser already lets users use Instagram, Twitch, and WhatsApp from the built-in feature-rich sidebar. Anyone who knows anything about the way Opera does business will know that its user base and their concerns are of the utmost importance to the platform. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that the company has decided to add this TikTok functionality as Opera’s user base has been asking for such a feature for quite some time.
Opera’s product director, Joanna Czajka, elaborated on these sentiments during the announcement of the new much-awaited feature. ‘While building our browsers, we don’t stop at following what is popular among our users but also try to learn how, when, and where people interact with those trending services or social media platforms. The next step in our design process is to figure out how a browser can participate in that in a way that brings the most value to our users. People focus on what they want to do, not on which device.’
Speaking of use, TikTok has become so much more than social media, with Gen Z even using the app as a search engine. Of course, this functionality wouldn’t even have been on Opera’s radar had the short-video platform not had such remarkable success over the last few years. One of the key factors of this massive shift in TikTok’s popularity is that it enables users to share content on other social media platforms.
That way, when you’re scrolling on YouTube, for example, and every second video is proudly emblazoned with the TikTok logo, you will likely become more curious about the app. You may even decide to download it and test it for yourself. This is how TikTok proliferates; it’s a solid advertising method that clearly shows remarkable growth.
However, there are numerous concerns over having such easy access to social media on devices that are historically geared toward work. We don’t refer to the individuals whose main source of income is social media like TikTok or who use TikTok to further their professional reach and global notoriety within various fields. We’re talking about those who already find themselves too addicted to TikTok to limit their usage. TikTok addiction, while a relatively novel phenomenon, is a real concern as addiction of any kind is capable of changing individuals’ lives in increasingly negative ways.
Troy Smith, a researcher at the University of Trinidad and Tobago, completed a study on Facebook and TikTok to determine the density of users that exhibit actual and troubling addiction-like symptoms. The study, detailed in a post on PsyPost.org, proceeded as follows:
‘Facebook users completed a scientifically validated questionnaire known as the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale, which assesses six criteria: Having obsessive thoughts about Facebook, feeling the urge to use Facebook more and more, using Facebook to forget about personal problems, trying to cutting down on the use of Facebook without success, becoming restless or upset when prohibited from using Facebook, and using Facebook so much that it negatively impacts school or work. TikTok users completed a modified version of the scale, in which the word “Facebook” was replaced by “TikTok.”’
‘As expected, higher scores on the TikTok addiction scale were associated with higher intensity usage of the platform. Using a statistical technique known as latent profile analysis, which allows for individuals with similar patterns of responses to be grouped together, the researchers classified the majority of TikTok users (68.2%) as having “no risk” of TikTok addiction, classified 25.4% as being at “low risk,” and classified 6.4% as being “at-risk.”’
Even though this percentage is fairly low, it does exist. And, as TikTok increases in popularity, the number of people addicted to the platform is slated to grow.
While the inclusion of TikTok in Opera’s ecosystem of easily accessible apps is a net positive for many users, there are still those to whom this will be a potentially detrimental update. We can only hope that social media addictions and distractions are easy to detox from.