TikTok, a video-sharing app, continues to grow in its popularity, especially among youth. Statistics show that 32.5% of users are between the ages of 10 and 19, 60% are female, and most users spend an average of 95 minutes a day in the platform.
With TikTok comes trends, some can be fun and whimsical, while others can be dangerous. A new trend popping up is leading to more teens, especially females, to self-diagnose their mental health.
In today’s modern society, teenagers are becoming overwhelmed with their mental health, and thus, have started sharing these issues and symptoms on social media platforms. Teens see other teens posting about their ADHD, anxiety disorders, and depression, and think “wow, that sounds a lot like me, I must have ADHD.” Additionally, many teens are self-diagnosing for more serious conditions such as schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder.
"Self-diagnosing a mental health disorder based on social media is a very dangerous trend, especially if the content used is inaccurate or misinformed. Many mental health disorders can lead to fatal outcomes if not diagnosed and treated properly. A person should never use information that they see or read about online to determine if they have a mental health disorder or to determine what treatment they need,” states Acenda’s Senior Program Director of Behavioral Health Services, Jennifer Kugler, LPC, ACS.
What can parents do to help?
Have an understanding of TikTok. Parents should be aware of TikTok and learn how it works and even manage their children’s accounts. For more information on this, visit this parental guide.
Keep your communication open. Talk to your child and encourage them to come to you for any issues and that you are there for them. If they claim they are having mental health issues, don’t brush it off, rather ask them about how they are feeling, symptoms they are having, and make sure to seek professional help if necessary.
Pay attention to their behaviors. If you notice behavior changes in your teen, such as grades dropping, lack of interest in activities, and personality changes, be sure to address it. Spending a lot of time on social media can take its toll on a child both mentally and physically.
Be a model for self-care. Jennifer Kugler adds, “if you’re experiencing any mental health concerns, be sure to seek professional help for yourself and model this important behavior for your child. Reduce your own screen time and help your child to set limits as well.”