TUESDAY, March 1, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Increased use of social media during the COVID-19 pandemic is correlated with increased tic severity and reduced quality of life among teens with tic disorders, according to a study scheduled for presentation at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, to be held from April 2 to 7 in Seattle.

Jessica Frey, M.D., from the University of Florida in Gainesville, and colleagues explored the impact of social media behaviors in adolescents with tic disorders. The analysis included a survey of 20 individuals (ages 11 to 21 years).

The researchers found that nearly two-thirds of participants (65 percent) reported using social media at least four to five times per day (5.6 hours on average per day) and 90 percent reported increased use of social media during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most respondents (85 percent) indicated that tic frequency worsened during the pandemic, and half reported that social media adversely impacted their tics, although there was no significant correlation between social media use and self-reported frequency of tics at the time of the survey or since the onset of the pandemic. There was a statistically significant correlation between tic severity, quality of life, and social media use during the pandemic. Only one individual reported using social media for information or interactions regarding tics.

“Our results have begun to shed light on the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic and increased social media use may be having on teens and young adults with tic disorders,” Frey said in a statement. “More research is needed to better identify the exact stressors that are leading to more severe tics so we can work to reduce stressors for those who are experiencing them.”

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