Here’s one thing you likely never associated TikTok with, doctors in multiple countries are reporting a rise in teenage girls developing tics, and that anxiety, depression, and TikTok could be contributing factors.
The increase started at the beginning of the pandemic and has alarmed and puzzled doctors. Several medical journals report the teen girls were watching TikTok videos of people who said they had Tourette Syndrome, which is a genetic nervous-system disorder that can cause tics which are repetitive, involuntary movements or sounds. The disorder mostly affects boys.
A movement-disorders fellow in Chicago says she noticed many patients blurting out the word “beans” with a British accent, and she eventually learned that one British TikToker would blurt out the word “beans.” The experts say that what’s happening is not Tourettes, but a functional movement disorder, and also note that many of the kids who developed tics had previously been diagnosed with anxiety or depression that had been made worse during the pandemic.
A recent paper by a child neurologist at Texas Children’s Hospital found that psychological disorders, which have the capacity to spread, were mostly confined to geographical locations in the past, but that social media has allowed them to spread globally.
Doctors note the disorders can be treated, and suggest kids take a social media break, and parents keep an eye on the types of videos their kids are viewing. Also, if a child exhibits tics that interfere with daily life, parents should seek out specialists for treatment.