The extremely popular social network TikTok has surpassed Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram in the number of downloads from app stores, and currently records more than a billion active users per month. At the time of the pandemic, when many stayed at home all day, this platform significantly expanded the circle of users who watched short videos there, responded to various challenges, and wasted time in all possible ways. But it was to be expected that all this would have consequences for their mental health as well.
Numerous medical experts, who deal with behavioral disorders, have noticed that since the beginning of the pandemic, young women, primarily teenagers, have been coming to them more and more often, showing similar symptoms. Namely, they developed tics, similar to those of people diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome. This syndrome that affects an average of 4-5 per 10,000 people, is more common in men, and most often develops in childhood or early adolescence – which corresponds to the age of the girls who developed it in the cases reported by the Wall Street Journal.
TikTok became TicTic
But in these cases, the girls did not have nervous system disorders as in the case of Tourette’s syndrome but got their tics from (maybe that’s why it got its name?) TikTok. It turned out that many often watched TikTok video posts of people with Tourette and then developed similar ticks. In addition, they often showed symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the tics started quite abruptly.
What led to the conclusion that TikTok was the cause of these medical problems was the fact that tics by young girls were uncommon. Namely, patients suffering from Tourette’s syndrome usually develop unique tics, and in “TikTok patients” it has been noticed that they have tics similar to those seen on this social media. It turned out that they unknowingly imitated people with Tourette, and that TikTok, due to its algorithms, showed them a large number of such videos – which led to the development of the disorder.
There is a somewhat positive fact throughout the story that tics like this can be treated. But, for that, first of all, it is necessary to separate the patients from social networks. If at all possible.
By the way, the TikTok user base consists of almost one-third of users aged 10 to 19 ( data for the USA ). On average, users spend as much as 52 minutes a day on this app, while for those under 15, it reaches 80 minutes a day.
By: Sarah R.