Is Tiktok the New Dr. Google?

Article is shared from blog.

Who do you follow AND listen to for medical advice?

Tiktok has taken the world by storm. According to ABC news, 40% of the Gen Z population (ages 7-22) is using Tiktok as their search engine. This makes me wonder, is the GenZ demographic using Tiktok also as their main source to get their medical advice?

This question surfaced after watching Uncoupled on Netflix. Michael, played by Neal Patrick Harris, is about to have sex with a GenZ person. Michael asks where the condoms are and the GenZ person tells him they don’t need condoms.

I looked at the screen like ‘Ummmm, what?” and so did Michael. This led me to think: What is TikTok telling the next generation about safe sex?

Practicing safe sex is a conversation that still needs to be talked about. As a Registered Nurse with over a decade of experience, I was glad to see Uncoupled bring up this conversation because it highlighted how misinformed people can be when they solely rely on social media for their medical advice.

Now don’t get me wrong, Tiktok is an incredible platform that has a TON of hacks on how to make your life simpler and easier. But when it comes to medical advice, how do you know who to trust and who is legitimate on that platform?

Here are three tips that I use as a Registered Nurse when it comes to knowing who to follow AND listen to for medical advice on Tiktok:

1- Find someone who wants to keep you as well as everyone you care about safe. “Do no harm” is the Hippocratic oath that all doctors take when becoming a doctor. So if a provider online is saying harmful things about a specific group of people, this is not a reliable provider to follow.

2- Send the medical professional you found online to a trusted friend who is also a medical professional. My friends and family are always sharing medical provider tiktoks with me so I can confirm if the information is correct or not for them. And if I’m not sure if the medical advice they sent me is accurate, I tell my family member to follow up with their provider.

3- Ask yourself the following question: Do they make me feel good? I know, weird question, right? This isn’t a date, so why are we talking about feelings? Having a relationship with a provider is a relationship and it may be one of the most important relationships you have in your life because it is related to your health. Your health is your number one priority and you want a provider who makes you feel good so you are able to open up emotionally and physically with ease. This also ties into tip 1 of feeling safe. If they don’t make you feel good, keep it moving.

Social media plays a big role in our decision making and with the rise of Tiktok, it is important that you safely consume medical information online. Usually, when we think of consumption, we think about our food and water intake. Social media is another form of consumption but instead of it affecting your physical body, it affects a stronger part of you, your emotional mind. According to research, it is said we consume at least 2 hours of social media a day. That is over 700 hours a year! Just like you watch what you eat, it is important that you watch what you are consuming with social media. You want your social media to fuel you.

If you still have questions about anything a medical professional said on Tiktok, make sure to ask your Primary Care Provider first. Do NOT. I repeat, DO NOT take any medications, supplements, or vitamins suggested by a medical professional on Tiktok until you consult your medical provider first. If you don’t have a medical provider, there are great resources, such as ZocDoc, where you can connect with a medical professional instantly.

Remember, there is an abundance of information online, and it can be challenging to know what is right. But don’t beat yourself up for not knowing something a medical professional shares. And, it doesn’t mean you have to immediately act on whatever the provider says. Even as a nurse, I have caught myself starting to do something a medical professional says on Tiktok and pause. I then reach out to my primary care provider to see if the advice I heard online is right for me. Again, always ask your medical provider first.

By using the three tips I suggested, you will be able to make an informed decision that will suit your healthcare needs. We are all uniquely and wonderfully made and not every piece of advice you hear online will suit you. It is important that you do your due diligence when it comes to your social media consumption because it is ultimately a part of your health.

I use my own tips regularly and have found fantastic providers on social media that I share with my community to help them make their own informed decisions. According to Merriam-Webster, an informed decision is a decision based on facts or information. Emphasize and underline the word facts.

References and more information on this topic click HERE