Study examines adolescent perspectives on mental health benefits and risks related to TikTok use

A new study examines adolescent perspectives on mental health benefits and risks associated with TikTok use. Findings from the study will be presented during the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) 2022 Meeting, taking place April 21-25 in Denver.

We conducted a focus group study to understand adolescent perspectives on mental health benefits and risks associated with TikTok use. Participants often described how TikTok's algorithm may uniquely enable adolescents to connect with peers around their interests and mental health struggles. Concerns such as excessive use of TikTok and peer comparison were also mentioned. Future work should focus on understanding and balancing these possible mental health benefit and risks."

Bradley Kerr, MS, Researcher, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

Focus groups were asked about what differentiates TikTok from other social media platforms as well as mental health benefits and risks. The first theme was connection with TikTok content. One participant described the TikTok algorithm, "Pretty quickly it can kind of catch on to what you're interested in or what you find funny." The second theme was challenges self-regulating TikTok use. One participant shared, "I downloaded TikTok during quarantine, and I would say I was addicted to it for a while. I had to delete it off my phone because it just kind of consumed an unnecessary amount of time." The third theme was peer comparison. One participant shared that some TikTok videos "could definitely affect self-image, 'cause just unrealistic beauty standards, and really rich people, so that lifestyle's not always the most attainable." The fourth theme was mental health solidarity and competition. One participant reported, "It can be helpful in relating [to]...other people dealing with these kind of issues and kind of finding solidarity there, but on the other hand, it also can turn into competition." A minor theme was risky and harmful trends.

Future studies should examine mental health consequences associated with adolescent TikTok concerns such as challenges self-regulating use, peer comparison, and unsupportive mental health interactions.

Mr. Kerr will present "Adolescent Perspectives on Mental Health Benefits and Risks Associated with TikTok Use" on Saturday, April 23 at 1 p.m. MDT. Reporters interested in an interview with Mr. Kerr should contact [email protected]

The PAS Meeting connects thousands of pediatricians and other health care providers worldwide. For more information about the PAS Meeting, please visit www.pas-meeting.org.

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