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Tags: tiktok | youth | mental health
OPINION

The Sooner We Ditch TikTok the Better for Kids

tiktok logo on a phone screen
(AFP via Getty Images)

James Hirsen By Friday, 12 April 2024 10:31 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Kids, tweens, and teens are increasingly coming to the conclusion that they suffer from myriad of mental health maladies, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive tendencies, generalized anxiety, depression, autism spectrum disorder and various other atypical conditions.

It turns out that influencers on TikTok and other social media platforms have been providing an assist in fanning the psychological flames.

Due to the fact that TikTok’s format favors brief content, the platform is generally unable to delve into the complexities of mental health conditions, which would be necessary in having any type of proper discussion.

The younger demographic commonly looks with admiration at an influencer who would share personal mental health information. Additionally, young users are frequently being prompted to engage in self-diagnosis with regard to their own mental health issues and challenges.

There are now plenty of laundry lists making the rounds that contain oversimplified and ambiguous disorders with which individuals might, and oftentimes do, identify.

In my opinion, based on my academic background and experience in the psychology and media fields, I believe there is a kind of collective mindset that has developed within our culture, particularly among our younger population.

It is one in which there has been a tendency to pathologize the customary mental, emotional and behavioral state of each human being.

The categories of psychological disorders have been broadened, and the heightened diagnoses that are taking place are often tethered to pharmaceutical remedies.

Characterizing common human behavior as mental illness has been front and center since the DSM-V, the standard classification of mental disorders, was published in 2013. Since this time many psychologists and psychiatrists have contended that the DSM-V took what were ordinary human behavioral patterns and moods and relabeled them as abnormal pathologies.

Social media platforms have exacerbated the problem by leading individuals to believe they are suffering from a serious condition when they may not be.

TikTok in particular, and social media in general, pose a danger to a sizable number of younger users who are still coming to know themselves and to develop the self-confidence needed to succeed in life.

The algorithmically generated content on social media repeatedly exposes viewers to programmed content, causing impressionable young minds to undergo a reshaping.

The algorithms can then be used to place individuals into categories based on an individual’s preferences regarding various mental disorders. Those who are categorized may then be the subjects of targeted marketing, the life blood of the social media business.

Algorithms are designed to present content to viewers, which lines up with their pre-determined interests. This creates a type of “echo chamber” that supplies young users with material that coincides with their perceived mental health conditions. Completing the cycle, all of it works to reinforce users’ self-diagnoses.

There are numerous downsides to self-diagnoses under the guidance of TikTok.

However, one of the most insidious is when multiple people within a social group develop similar, medically inexplicable symptoms. The illnesses are called sociogenic.

The first known example of social media-induced sociogenic illness occurred in 2021. Neurologists experienced a sudden surge of patients, particularly teenage girls, who were exhibiting symptoms associated with Tourette syndrome, a genetic condition in which someone involuntarily displays a sudden, fast-paced and repetitive sound or movement.

Psychiatric professionals determined that the symptoms the teens were exhibiting were the result of the many hours spent watching viral TikTok videos of people with Tourette syndrome. The teens had self-diagnosed and had concluded that they also suffered from Tourette syndrome.

What’s the cure for the mind massage that is going on with our youth, making them think that they are all suffering from physical, mental, psychological and emotional disorders?

I don’t claim to have an instant cure, but it wouldn’t hurt to ditch TikTok.

Then try focusing on others twice as much as self.

And lastly, hold on tight to a grateful heart.

James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood. Read James Hirsen's Reports — More Here.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


JamesHirsen
What’s the cure for the mind massage that is going on with our youth, making them think that they are all suffering from physical, mental, psychological and emotional disorders? I don’t claim to have an instant cure, but it wouldn’t hurt to ditch TikTok.
tiktok, youth, mental health
673
2024-31-12
Friday, 12 April 2024 10:31 AM
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