TikTok has become a dangerous breeding ground for mental disorders

A new group of social media stars is sweeping TikTok: mental health influencers. Most of them are teenage girls and young women who post videos of themselves showing symptoms, such as Tourette’s tics or rapid personality changes due to a speech disorder. borderline personality. Others, often without any medical qualifications, post videos that help viewers “self-diagnose” their own mental conditions.

These videos become Billions of views. On TikTok alone, the hashtag #BPD (borderline personality disorder) has 3.7 billion views, #bipolar 2 billion and #DID (dissociative identity disorder) 1.5 billion more.

Recently, psychologists have noticed a surge of teenage girls claiming to also suffer from Tourette syndrome and rare mental illnesses, such as borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia – conditions rarely seen in teenage girls. And a common denominator among many of these symptomatic girls has been identified: Consuming mental health content on TikTok.

TikTok’s mental health explosion is “a modern version of social contagion, which has always been more prevalent among teenage girls”, according to psychology professor Dr Jean Twenge.
Rebecca Smith

In one case, Caroline Olvera of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago researched “many” girls with tics who all said the word “beans” with English accents, even some who spoke no English. It turns out that a British Tourette influencer with over 14 million followers exhibited the exact same “beans” twitch.

After nearly two years of lockdowns and school closures, lonely teens are spending more time online, and many are inevitably encountering mental health content on TikTok. When they do, the platform’s algorithm kicks in, serving impressionable young girls even more videos on the subject. While mental health awareness is certainly a good thing, well-meaning influencers are inadvertently harming impressionable young viewers, many of whom seem to mistakenly self-diagnose themselves with a disorder or suddenly manifest symptoms because they are now aware.

On TikTok alone, the hashtag #BPD (borderline personality disorder) has 3.7 billion views.
On TikTok alone, the hashtag #BPD (borderline personality disorder) has 3.7 billion views.
ICT Tac

TikTok’s mental health explosion is “clearly a modern take on social contagion, which has historically been more prevalent among teenage girls than other demographics,” said University psychology professor Dr Jean Twenge. of San Diego State and author of “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared As Adults. Eating disorders spread within groups of friends.

As a member of Gen Z, I’ve seen firsthand what social media has done to a generation of young women — it’s even left self-harm scars on the wrists of many of my peers. I know a terrifying number of peers who have harmed each other, many of whom were habitual social media users.

The #bipolar hashtag has 2 billion views on TikTok – and many mental health influencers are posting videos that help viewers “self-diagnose” their own mental conditions.
The #bipolar hashtag has 2 billion views on TikTok – and many mental health influencers are posting videos that help viewers “self-diagnose” their own mental conditions.
ICT Tac

Rates of depression doubled among teenage girls between 2009 and 2019, and hospital admissions for self-harm soared 100% for girls aged 10 to 14 during the rise of social media between 2010 and 2014. most recent data available. The rise in poor mental health along with the ubiquity of smartphones has led to its own frightening epidemic.

Gone are the days of showing off your best life highlight reel on Instagram. Now it’s trendy to celebrate your worst moments. What attracts attention in today’s social media market is tears, and content creators are encouraged to be vulnerable to views.

Dr. Jean Twenge, author of
Dr. Jean Twenge, author of “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared As Adults,” sounded the alarm about mental health influencers.

So far, there is no solution to this crisis. The answer does not lie in the ignorant politicians trying to regulate Big Tech, and certainly not in the companies themselves, which are incentivized to put profits before people. Nor should we discourage public conversation about mental health issues.

On the contrary, parents – especially 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 inappropriate for kids and tweens. Big Tech platforms themselves prohibit anyone under the age of 13 from creating social media accounts. Following this rule and avoiding social media use for even longer is the best way to prevent these tragic mental health consequences.

iGen
Dr Twenge urges parents to keep girls away from social media until they are 16 if possible.

Dr Twenge urges parents to keep girls away from social media until they are 16 if possible. She also advises to “leave your phone outside your bedroom while you sleep, make sure your kids do the same, [and] put down all electronic devices one hour before bedtime.

Bottom Line: Once the land of silly dances and kitten videos, TikTok is now a breeding ground for mental disorders. The evidence that social media is harmful to young people’s mental health is both increasingly overwhelming. And it’s time for Gen Z – and their parents – to start taking notice.

Rikki Schlott is a Gen Z journalist, podcast host, and student at Columbia University.

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