'I was even ignoring my family': Human perception expert Dr Brian Boxer Wachler likens TikTok to gambling

27 April 2023, 18:02 | Updated: 27 April 2023, 18:07

'I was even ignoring my family': Leading human perception expert compares the addictive nature of TikTok to gambling
'I was even ignoring my family': Leading human perception expert compares the addictive nature of TikTok to gambling. Picture: LBC / Alamy

By Danielle De Wolfe

A leading expert on human perception and vision has spoken out on how TikTok led him to disregard his family during the pandemic.

Speaking to Tom Swarbrick, Dr Brian Boxer Wachler spoke of the "addictive" nature of social media and the impact that platforms, including TikTok, have on the human brain.

"I was even ignoring my family to a large degree and causing a lot of strain," said Dr Boxer Wachler.

"It really affected my perception - because of that dopamine rush that gives us that same buzz that we get from coffee or sex or drugs and things like that."

Dr Boxer Wachler explained his intense use of TikTok began during the pandemic, with those working in public health feeling the need to curb disinformation on social media by responding to inaccurate videos.

Dr Boxer Wachler: 'I got so addicted to TikTok - to the point that I was even ignoring my family!'

He highlighted that social media algorithms don't care for factual accuracy, which led to his social media addiction - and the creation of his book, Influenced: The Impact of Social Media on Our Perception.

"There was a huge need to call out videos that were going viral in the health space that wasn't true because there's no fact-checking with the algorithms," said Dr Wachler.

"I, myself, got in way over my head - to the point where I literally got addicted to social media and specifically got addicted to TikTok," he added.

"That was what prompted me to write the book Influenced about my whole experience and then to do a deep-dive into social media and its effect on so many levels, of people and how they perceive things."

READ MORE: UK bans TikTok from Government devices over security fears and worries about app's ties with Beijing

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One of the leaders in the field of vision correction and founder of the Boxer Wachler Vision Institute, the doctor amassed more than 3.4 million followers on TikTok alone since joining the platform.

Posting videos on a range of medical topics, the expert says his first-hand experience of TikTok led him to understand the addictive nature of such platforms, likening them to gambling.

"There was a huge need to call out videos that were going viral in the health space that wasn't true because there's no fact-checking with the algorithms," said Dr Wachler.
"There was a huge need to call out videos that were going viral in the health space that wasn't true because there's no fact-checking with the algorithms," said Dr Wachler. Picture: LBC

Questioning whether the addictive nature of such platforms was his "view" or "evidence", the expert says it's the intention of social media companies to "hook" users using dopamine.

He added the "randomness" of the algorithm is what keeps users coming back for more given you don't know whether the next video will be to your likening.

"There's a big need for parents to be involved," Dr Boxer Wachler added, highlighting the need for parents to understand how the platforms work.

Tom Swarbrick then questioned whether the addictive nature of TikTok resembled a similar neural response to that of gambling.

Dr Boxer Wachler responded: "I mean gambling slot machines.

"It's the randomness of the hits that keeps people coming back to the slots and the same thing with social media because when you're scrolling."

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