PlayAttentionLogo Young Girls and Young Women, Tics, and TikTok - Play Attention - turn your ADHD into Superpowers be1f0565da126d2e72d40a0b40c2082a_membership200 Young Girls and Young Women, Tics, and TikTok - Play Attention - turn your ADHD into Superpowers SpaceCertificationLogo Young Girls and Young Women, Tics, and TikTok - Play Attention - turn your ADHD into Superpowers

BLOG

Young Girls and Young Women, Tics, and TikTok

2021 11 02 092634A viewpoint in the journal Movement Disorders exposes an alarming trend noticed by 9 international medical professionals. The viewpoint titled Rapid Onset Functional Tic-Like Behaviors in Young Females During the COVID-19 Pandemic notes,

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our colleagues working at eight different Tourette syndrome (TS) clinics globally have witnessed a parallel pandemic of young people aged 12 to 25 years (almost exclusively girls and women) presenting with the rapid onset of complex motor and vocal tic-like behaviors.”

These women, who never presented tic-like behaviors before, began presenting tics including “…complex vocalizations consisting of the repetition of random words or phrases (e.g., knock knock, woo hoo, beans); 11 of 20 engaged in the repetition of curse words, or obscene, offensive, or derogatory statements; 13 of 20 had complex arm/hand movements (clapping, pointing, sign language, or throwing objects); and 14 of 20 had complex behaviors in which they would hit or bang part of their body, other people (typically parents), or objects.”

A common denominator between the girls and women was TikTok. TikTok, according to Wikipedia, “is a video-sharing focused social networking service owned by Chinese company ByteDance. It hosts a variety of short-form user videos, from genres like dance, comedy, and education, with durations from 15 seconds to three minutes.”

The authors of the study note that the girls and women cited in their clinics had rapid onset of tics that “occurred in all participants during the pandemic period (after March1, 2020), and all endorsed exposure to influencers on social media (mainly TikTok) with tics or TS [Tourette Syndrome].”

For those not familiar with the vernacular, influencers are people and organizations who have a purported expert level of knowledge or social influence in their field. They require no certification, no university degree, or any real knowledge of the field they identify with. Influencers do have the ability to influence people who watch them. Many influencers use their TikTok influence to create wealth.

Many of the girls/women in the article had experienced, in addition to TikTok influencers, stressors including the pandemic, online schooling, social isolation, and physical stress.

The authors tend to think that explosive onset tic-like behaviors may draw desired attention from peers and parents due to this novel behavior. This attention then reinforces the behaviors to be repeated.

While the authors cannot prove causation, they do send a clear message to us all; what we consume with our eyes and ears definitely influences our brains. Combined with the stressors due to the pandemic, the outcomes are not likely to be positive.

Therefore, it is wise to carefully monitor what our children watch and hear, and what we as parents watch and hear.  This may be especially important if you or your child has ADHD as ADHD and digital addiction can often co-exist. 

Authors

Tamara Pringsheim, MD, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Christos Ganos, MD, PhD, Department of Neurology, Charite Universitatsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Tamara Pringsheim, MD, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Christos Ganos, MD, PhD, Department of Neurology, Charite Universitatsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Tammy Hedderly, MBBS, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Joseph F. McGuire, Phd, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Evelina London Children’s Hospital UK, London, United Kingdom 

Douglas Woods, Department of Psychology, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Donald L. Gilbert, MD, Division of Neurology, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

 John Piacentini, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioural Sciences, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA

 Russell C. Dale, MBChB, PhD, Kids Neuroscience Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

 Davide Martino, MD, PhD, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada