UF study examines potential link between heavy social media use and tic severity, frequency

composite headshot of doctors frey and malaty
(From left) Drs. Jessica Frey and Irene Malaty

A small, preliminary study by University of Florida researchers reported that an increase in social media use among teens during the COVID-19 pandemic may be linked to an increase in tic severity and frequency.

The study, highlighted today by the American Academy of Neurology, surveyed 20 participants ages 11-21 who were experiencing tics. Key findings from the survey, included:

  • 90% reported using social media more frequently during the pandemic
  • 50% reported that social media negatively impacted their tics
  • 85% reported that their tic frequencies worsened during the pandemic

The study was led by Jessica Frey, M.D., a movement disorders fellow, and Irene Malaty, M.D., a professor of neurology.

“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.

Read the American Academy of Neurology news release.