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June 14th, 2024
By Faith McNamara

Why You Shouldn’t Take Parenting Advice from TikTok: A Psychologist’s View

TikTok has emerged as a widely popular platform for users to share their experiences and opinions, including parenting advice. However, you should approach such advice with utmost caution.

There are several reasons why one should think twice before taking parenting advice from TikTok. In this article, we discuss all of this and more with Psychologist and Professor of Psychology, Dr John McAlaney.

Limited Expertise and Experience

Firstly, you should keep in mind that TikTok is an open platform where anyone can share their thoughts and opinions, regardless of their expertise or experience in the subject matter.

While some TikTok creators may have professional qualifications in parenting or child development, the vast majority do not. Therefore, it is crucial to exercise discretion while considering the advice provided on the platform.

Acknowledge that the advice provided on TikTok may not be grounded in research or best practices. As a result, it often isn’t the most reliable source of information for parents seeking guidance. It’s better to seek advice from credible sources, such as paediatricians, child psychologists, or other qualified professionals.

Lack of Context

TikTok is a social media platform where videos are typically short, with a maximum length of one minute. While this format can be entertaining and informative, it can also be limiting when it comes to providing sufficient context for complex issues related to parenting.

It is important to note that parenting is a multifaceted and nuanced topic that requires careful consideration and attention to detail. Unfortunately, due to the limited time frame on TikTok, parenting advice on this platform is often oversimplified and may not be relevant to your specific situation. Seeking out additional resources and consulting with professionals when making important decisions related to parenting is crucial.

Potential for Harmful Advice

TikTok, while a platform of great entertainment value, is not moderated for accuracy or safety. As such, users should exercise caution when consuming content on this platform.

Some content creators may provide advice that is not only ineffective but also potentially harmful. For instance, they may suggest using physical punishment or other outdated disciplinary techniques that have been shown to have negative effects on children's mental health and overall well-being.

Therefore, the responsibility to be vigilant and discerning when consuming content on TikTok is left to the viewer. Always prioritise the safety and well-being of yourselves and those around you.

Confirmation Bias

TikTok’s algorithm has been meticulously crafted to present its users with content that it believes will be of interest to them, based on their prior interactions with the platform. This approach can inadvertently lead to a confirmation bias, wherein users are only exposed to parenting advice that reinforces their pre-existing beliefs and values.

While it is undoubtedly crucial to seek out guidance that aligns with one's values, it is equally important to consider a diverse range of perspectives to ensure that one is making well-informed decisions. Therefore, it is highly recommended that users of TikTok's parenting advice content take the time to explore a variety of viewpoints before making any significant decisions.

Lack of Accountability

TikTok creators are not held accountable for the advice they provide, and there is no way to ensure that what they say is accurate. Unlike professionals in the field of parenting and child development, TikTok creators do not have a code of ethics or standards of practice that they must adhere to.

This lack of accountability and regulation can have serious consequences for the well-being of children and families who rely on the information provided by these creators.

Future measures should be taken to ensure that TikTok creators are held to a higher standard of accountability and that accurate information is provided to those who seek it. However, that is not currently the case.

The Effect of Social Media

During our conversation with Psychologist and Professor of Psychology, Dr John McAlaney from Bournemouth University, we discussed the profound impact of social media on an individual's overall well-being.

Dr McAlaney said that as humans, it is natural to compare ourselves to others when socialising. However, with the advent of social media, this comparison can occur incessantly throughout the day.

Previously, individuals could take a break from comparing themselves to their peers when alone at home. However, Dr McAlaney suggested that with the ease of access to social media, one can quickly analyse the achievements of their friends and family, leading to a constant comparison of oneself to others.

This phenomenon can significantly impact an individual's mental health and overall sense of self-worth. It is essential to recognise the potential negative effects of social media and take steps to mitigate them.

Self-worth is an aspect that many new mothers struggle with after giving birth to a child. The sudden shift in focus and energy towards the new life they have brought into the world can lead to a decline in their mental health.

It is a challenging time for new mothers, who often find themselves stuck at home with limited social interaction. In such circumstances, turning to social media can be a great outlet for relaxation. However, it is important to note that excessive use of social media can have negative effects on one's mental health.

For new mothers, social media can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can provide a sense of community and support, especially if they are part of a group of like-minded individuals.

On the other hand, it can be overwhelming, with an abundance of information and tips that can be both confusing and anxiety-inducing. This is particularly true for those who are part of the "mummy" side of their chosen platform, where they may be bombarded with conflicting advice and opinions.

In such situations, new mothers should take a step back and evaluate their social media use, as suggested by Dr McAlaney. They should focus on finding a balance between staying informed and not becoming overwhelmed.

It is also important for them to remember that their self-worth is not tied to their ability to be the perfect mother. They should give themselves permission to make mistakes and seek help when needed. By doing so, they can navigate this challenging time with confidence and grace.

In conclusion, while TikTok can be an entertaining platform, it is important to be cautious with the parenting advice posted there. If you have concerns about your child's health or well-being, it is always best to consult a qualified professional, such as a paediatrician or child psychologist.

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