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Increased Use Of Social Media Among Teens During COVID Pandemic May Up Risk Of Tic Disorders

Increased Use Of Social Media Among Teens During COVID Pandemic May Up Risk Of Tic Disorders
Increased Use Of Social Media Among Teens During COVID Pandemic May Up Risk Of Tic Disorders

COVID-19 pandemic shifted the focus of the entire world to social media. But according to new findings, it could increase the risk of tic syndrome in people suffering from the disease.

Written by Arushi Bidhuri |Published : March 2, 2022 2:33 PM IST

The unfolding of the COVID-19 pandemic increased the risk of several other problems, one related to social media. The use of social media increased drastically. While the lockdown decreased in-person social interaction, people are connected online more than ever. For many people, social media has become a lifeline to the outside world, particularly as they seek ways to stay connected and entertained. This is true mostly for teenagers, who were missing out on a lot during the pandemic. In fact, a group of researchers have found that the increased use of social media can be problematic for teenagers and young people who spend most of their time in front of screens.

Recently, the findings presented at the American Academy of Neurology found that during the Covid-19 pandemic, extensive social media use among teenagers and young people may have been associated with an increase in tic severity.

The Link Between Increased Social Media Use And Tic Severity

Tics are involuntary motions and sounds triggered by an insatiable need to make them. They are the hallmark of chronic tic disorders, such as Tourette syndrome, a neurodevelopmental illness that manifests in childhood.

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During the Covid pandemic, researchers from the University of Florida discovered a link between increased social media use and an increase in tic intensity and lower quality of life. When compared to those who reported increased social media use, study participants who reported no increase in social media use had a lower tic frequency during Covid.

For the study, the researchers included 20 tics-affected teenagers and young adults aged 11 to 21. Participants completed a survey that looked at how much time they spent on social media, how often they had tics, how severe those tics were, and their overall quality of life. 65 per cent of the participants in the study said they spent an average of six hours per day on social media, with ninety per cent saying they used it more during the pandemic than before.

Furthermore, the poll revealed that 85 per cent of respondents said their tic frequency deteriorated during the pandemic, and 50 per cent said social media had a detrimental impact on their tics. Participants also rated their quality of life on a scale of zero to six, with six being the worst week of their lives and three indicating little change. Those who used social media more frequently received a 2.5, while those who used it less frequently received a 1.5.

Understanding Tic Severity

Studies have shown that about 1 in 100 children develop tic disorders and Tourette's syndrome. In recent years, the general public's understanding of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety in children has improved. Tic disorders like Tourette's syndrome, on the other hand, haven't made as much progress.

Many people with tic disorders experience a premonitory desire, which is a physiological sensation that occurs before the tics. A person is experiencing a tic if they can identify the feeling in their body before the tic or twitch appears and if doing the tic or twitch makes them feel better. But the problem is not limited to that, but the function of the behaviour is also important.

Are There Treatments Available?

According to experts, the treatment for tic disorders and Tourette's syndrome is similar. Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT) is the standard treatment that focuses on helping children develop the skills to manage tics.

(With inputs from agencies)

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