TikTok is one of the hottest social media trends for teenagers. There is a discussion about whether the popular app is being used as a way for teens to communicate in a secret code on TikTok about problems they might be facing, avoiding in-person outlets.
We spoke to therapist Dr. Laura Streyffeler Wednesday about messages teens might be sharing with each other using TikTok.
Streyffeler says some kids and teenagers are struggling because a lot of them feel disconnected. We live in a society where almost everything is online, and so are cries for help.
TikTok videos appear to show teenagers crying or visibly upset.
“Kids are more connected to their phones than they are to each other,” Streyffeler said.
And that’s one reason Streyffeler believes they’re using their phones to send messages instead of reaching out to mom and dad.
“From the time kids are very young, they’re just given phones instead of having conversations with their parents,” Streyffeler said.
And she says that feeling of disconnection can cause anxiety and fears of not being able to measure up to their friends or even people they don’t know on social media.
Videos appearing on TikTok are not just cries for attention.
“It’s a cry for help because these kids are struggling,” Streyffeler said, “And they have been taught that social media and the internet, different websites and apps are the way that you communicate.”
“The internet and social media and different apps are for a lot of kids — it’s their native language,” Streyffeler said. “It’s their way to communicate, and they believe, if it’s not online, if it’s not on the internet, it doesn’t matter. Nobody really cares; nobody pays attention.”
Streyffeler told us, if you see something similar to what is mentioned online, don’t accuse whoever is behind the post of just wanting attention. She says get involved.
If you or someone you know is struggling, the National Suicide Prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255.