Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares announces investigation into TikTok, impact on mental health for children

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Posted at 9:20 PM, Mar 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-03 23:24:52-05

NORFOLK, Va. - The toll of too much TikTok - Virginia’s attorney general is joining several other attorneys general across the nation who want to know about the app’s physical and mental impact on kids and young adults.

A doctor tells News 3 that social media apps like TikTok can lead to depression and anxiety for some teenagers, which leads to young people feeling overwhelmed.

"I can get mentally drained from it. I can get mentally drained from any social media platform, but TikTok can be pretty draining. An hour could go by, and you think 15 minutes went by," Isaiah, an 18-year-old, tells News 3 reporter Leondra Head.

Like Isaiah, many teenagers find themselves spending too much time on TikTok.

"I got to delete it like every month for a few weeks, then I have to re-download it after that," the teen said.

Parents of pre-teens are seeing the impacts of social media apps.

"With the amount of vulgar language and what they see on that app, I just don’t approve of it," one parent said.

Virginia is the latest state to open an investigation into TikTok and its impact on physical and mental health for children and young adults. Attorney General Miyares said in a statement:

“Virginia has officially joined a bi-partisan, nationwide investigation into TikTok’s platform and its effect on the mental and physical health of kids and young people. Our children are in the midst of a mental health crisis, and the negative effects of social media platforms like TikTok  on our youth have raised concerns on our youth for some time."
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares

Although TikTok can create a community for some, psychotherapist Dr. Sarah Williams says it can often lead to comparing one's self to another.

"There are some negative aspects of using that app. You have to be critical of the content. It can actually reinforce some of those feelings of depression or anxiety that a pre-teen or teen can be experiencing," Dr. Williams said.
One parent says she’s witnessed the negative impacts of physical harm on TikTok.

"I work in a doctor’s office, and one of our kids came in and she had seen a challenge on TikTok, and she ended up breaking her leg from a fall she took while completing the challenge," the mother said.

Another mother says she monitors her children's activity on the app.

"It’s some stuff, but then you look over and you might see them looking at something they are not supposed to and it’s like, ‘Alright... now it’s time to get off.'"

Part of the investigation will focus on techniques used by TikTok to boost the amount of time young people are spending on the app. Last November, attorneys general nationwide also launched an investigation into Meta platforms, formerly known as Facebook, for promoting Instagram to kids.

Related: Those struggling with mental health say social media can be a trigger, especially in the pandemic