TikTok risks come from need for validation: experts

In most nuclear families, parents rarely make time to interact with their wards. Risk taking teenagers turn to applications like TikTok for approval

Last week, two youngsters were killed and another injured after being hit by a train while shooting a video on TikTok. This happened at a level-crossing near R K Hegde Nagar.

Despite incidents like these across the country, youngsters still fall prey to such antics.

Metrolife spoke to behavioural analysts to understand why such incidents happen and how to prevent them.

According to numbers from the analytics firm ‘Sensor Tower’, the application has been downloaded more than 350 million times.

“Today’s youth want instant fame and gratification. Many say that they are on TikTok for entertainment and fun. The youth is addicted to such applications because of the deficit of social skills. In nuclear families, most don’t even know their neighbours and do not sit together as a family,” Dr Shwetha B C, a lecturer of psychology at B M S College, claims.

Difficulty in conversing and failure to recognise one’s own emotions are other factors, she adds. “Failing to create an environment where one can express and communicate openly leads one to such platforms,” he says.

Parenting style needs to change and over-pampering a single child should stop, she adds. “Set reasonable rules and boundaries. Parents should also step out of their own worlds and show care for children,” says Shwetha. 

Dr Sabina Rao, psychiatrist, Columbia Asia Hospital, says that the need to look cool often puts pressure on youngsters, and lures them to such stunts. 

“Teenage is often considered the period when one disconnects from their biological family and makes an attempt to identify themselves. During such a time, they tend to lean on peers, who might also be taking similar risks,” she says. 

Everyone knows that alcohol and drugs can be addictive, yet they do it. “Similarly, people who do such antics never think that anything serious or fatal can happen to them,” Dr Sabina says.

Such incidents have become common in the last five years, notes Dr Naveen Jayaram, consultant psychiatrist, Sakra World Hospital. 

“With the influx of technology, these incidents have risen. Such cases happen with a particular personality of people, who are called as ‘high novelty-seeking people’. They are very impulsive and want an immediate adrenaline rush,” he says. 

He points out that awareness programmes and talks at educational institutions is a must to make youngsters aware about such addictions. 

“Students with such tendencies can be identified by teachers and parents, by their impulsive and aggressive traits,” he says. Therapy and counselling sessions for such students is a must. 

Traits to watch out for

Behavioural analysts point out that youngsters with certain traits are prone to such accidents:

The ‘let’s do it now’ attitude

Impulsive and aggressive behaviour

Low patience levels 

Constantly seeking approval

What can you do as a parent?

Parents need to monitor wards and the time they spend on mobile applications

Involve your children in reading or activity clubs or sports. 

Regularly talk to them about making good decisions. Do not sound controlling when speaking to them. 

Make your child’s favourite friend talk to them. 

Not easy to prevent such incidents: doc

Dr Chittaranjan Andrade, professor, psychiatrist and dean of NIMHANS, observes that risk-taking behaviour is high among teenagers and young adults. 

“These individuals are not mature; they are fighting to be independent from their parents and for their identity. Such incidents do not happen on a conscious level,” he says.

Dr Chittaranjan adds that it is not easy to spot someone who is at a risk of such behaviour.

“It is not easy to understand who might do an inexplicable act that could risk his/her life. Even bold people who showcase risky traits might will not necessarily do
such antics,” he says.  Talking in a calm and sensible way to youngsters is the best way out. “One could also make peers talk about the same to them,” he says.

For the impulsive

  • Step away from things which can make you react immediately.
  • Self-restraint is important.
  • Meditative exercises and deep breathing help.
  • Always analyse the pros and cons of each action.
  • Trust your gut feeling. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably is not.
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