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Tik Tok may be influencing tic disorders in children

Tik Tok may be influencing tic disorders in children, reports Lena Salzbank. (WPEC)
Tik Tok may be influencing tic disorders in children, reports Lena Salzbank. (WPEC)
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Tik Tok is in the spotlight once again, after researchers suggest a sudden increase in teen tics could be linked to the popular social media site.

Health experts from Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London first published a study about these tic-like behaviors back in January of 2021 when doctors noticed a sudden onset of tics in teenage girls. Now doctors are seeing the trend in our area too.

Dr. Christine Conelea, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota, explains how tics and Tourette Syndrome typically present in kids between the ages of 5 and 7, but these new cases appear to be sudden and more severe.

Doctors are trying to diagnose these new symptoms as Functional Movement Disorder rather than Tourette's.

Conelea said the symptoms people are reporting are more complex movements and sounds, longer vocalizations and some of the more severe can be intense body movements.

She also explains that while tics and Tourette's are presented in kids and develop over time, these functional movement disorders may be learned and rapidly onset.

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Conelea has 15 years of experience in studying patients with Tourette's and she tells CBS12 News, sites like Tik Tok could be influencing these neurological behaviors.

Conelea says we know that tics are very susceptible to mimicking, even before social media, so if your brain is set up to quickly learn motor movements it's very likely if you see it a lot you could pick it up.

The #Tourettes produces over 4 billion hits on Tik Tok. But if kids are mimicking influencers, do they really have diagnosed Tourette's?

Amanda Talty, the president of the Tourette Association of America, also suggests researchers are still studying the phenomenon across the globe.

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"I think we need to be careful and not to assign blame and villainize social media for what has been seen before the pandemic because FMD are not new." said Talty.

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