A new group of social media stars are pushing TikTok: Mental Health Influencers. Most of them are teenage girls and young women who post videos of themselves experiencing symptoms such as Tourette’s tics or rapid personality changes due to borderline personality disorder. Others, often without medical qualifications, post videos that help viewers “self-diagnose” their own mental illnesses.
These videos will always be billion of views. Alone on TikTok the hashtag #BPD (borderline personality disorder) has 3.7 billion views, #bipolar 2 billion and #DID (dissociative identity disorder) another 1.5 billion.
Recently, psychologists have noticed a surge of adolescent girls who also claim to suffer from it Tourett syndrome and rare mental illnesses, such as borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia – conditions not typically found in the adolescent population. And a common denominator between many of these symptomatic girls was identified: Consuming mental health content on TikTok.
In one case, Caroline Olvera of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago researched “Numerous” girls with tics all blurted out the word “beans” in an English accent – even some who didn’t speak English. As it turns out, a British Tourette influencer with over 14 million followers displayed exactly the same “bean” tick.
After nearly two years of lockdown and school closures, lonely teens are spending more time online, and many inevitably come across mental health content on TikTok. When they do, the platform’s algorithm kicks in and caters to impressionable young girls even more videos on the subject. While mental health awareness is certainly a good thing, well-meaning influencers are inadvertently harming young, impressionable viewers, many of whom seem to misdiagnose themselves with disorders or suddenly exhibit symptoms because they are now aware of them.
TikTok’s mental health explosion is “clearly a modern version of the social contagion that has historically been more prevalent among teenage girls than other demographics,” said Dr. Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University and author of “iGen: Why today’s super-connected kids are growing up less rebellious, more tolerant, less happy — and completely unprepared for adulthood.” Eating disorders have also shown up Dissemination within circles of friends.
As a member of Gen Z, I’ve witnessed firsthand what social media has done to a generation of young women—even leaving self-harm scars on many of my peers’ wrists. I know a staggering number of self-injured peers, many of whom were habitual users of social media.
rates of depression have doubled in teenage girls between 2009 and 2019 and hospitalizations for self-harm have increased by 100 percent for girls aged 10 to 14 during the rise of social media between 2010 and 2014, the latest available data. The rise in mental health combined with the ubiquity of smartphones has led to a frightening epidemic of its own.
Gone are the days of showing off the highlight reel of your best life on Instagram. Now it’s time to celebrate your worst moments. In today’s social media market, what draws eyes is tears, and content creators are encouraged to be view prone.
So far there is no solution to this crisis. The answer is not included clueless politicians try to regulate big tech, and certainly don’t bet with the companies themselves that have incentives Win over people. Nor should we discourage speaking about mental health issues in public.
Rather, parents—particularly those of teenage girls—must be the first line of defense against the harmful effects of social media. Unlike texting friends and playing video games, social media is totally unsuitable for kids and tweens. Big Tech platforms themselves to forbid Block anyone under the age of 13 from creating social media accounts. Adhering to this rule and cutting off social media use any longer is the best way to prevent these tragic mental health consequences.
dr Twenge urges parents to keep girls off social media until 16 if possible. She also advises to “leave your phone outside of your bedroom while you sleep, make sure your kids do the same, [and] Put off all electronic devices an hour before bed.”
Bottom line: Once the land of silly dances and kitty videos, TikTok is now a breeding ground for mental health disorders. The evidence that social media is harmful to young people’s mental health is mounting and damning. And it’s about time Gen Z — and their parents — took notice.
Rikki Schlott is a Generation Z journalist, podcast host, and graduate student at Columbia University.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/12/tiktok-has-become-a-dangerous-mental-disorder-breeding-ground/ TikTok has become a dangerous breeding ground for mental disorders