Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler wasn’t addicted to alcohol, drugs or gambling.
But Boxer Wachler — an ophthalmologist in Beverly Hills, California — was addicted to TikTok, he said. And his family became concerned for his well-being.
“I didn’t even know I was becoming addicted,” he told Fox News Digital in a phone interview.
“It’s almost like wildfire that starts with a match — and you don’t even know it’s consuming you at the time.”
TIKTOK ADDICTION: EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON THE SOCIAL MEDIA CRAZE AND WHAT’S BEHIND THE APP’S ‘MASSIVE’ INFLUENCE
“Eventually I got called out on it by my daughters and my wife, and they literally had a TikTok intervention with me,” he said.
READ ON THE FOX NEWS APP
Boxer Wachler reveals this personal experience and more in his new book, “Influenced: The Impact of Social Media on Our Perception,” published Nov. 1, 2022.
In the pages of his book, he also shares the potential warning signs of addiction for anyone — and how people can cope.
Boxer Wachler’s then-14-year-old twin daughters initially introduced him to TikTok at the start of the pandemic, he said.
His daughters told him there were “some really good doctors” on the app, and that they — the daughters — could help him create an account and upload some videos.
He did so — and said his content quickly went viral on TikTok, amassing more than 3.4 million followers.
A STRESSFUL MARRIAGE MAY HARM YOUR HEART HEALTH, STUDY FINDS
“I found a niche in terms of looking at health videos that had been going viral and seeing that a lot of times, that information [that was out there] wasn’t even correct,” he said.
He started correcting the information in those viral videos in TikToks of his own, which became just as popular as the misinformation that he was criticizing, he added.
While Boxer Wachler was not new to social media — he had a Facebook and YouTube account — neither of those platforms proved to have the same addictive power over him as TikTok did, he said.
For this, he blames the “scroll-up” feature that provides a continuous stream of content for the TikTok user.
HOW DELICIOUS! COFFEE SHOP SPREADS KINDNESS THROUGH ITS PRODUCTS, PEOPLE AND PROGRAMS
“It’s like you’re playing the slot machine,” said Boxer Wachler.
“Each time you scroll up on the video, you just don’t know what you’re going to get.”
This uncertainty is why slot machines are so addictive, he said, noting that Facebook and YouTube have created Reels and Shorts, respectively, to mimic TikTok’s format on their own platforms.
After his wife and daughters staged their intervention, Boxer Wachler initially rebuffed their concerns and was “resentful.”
“I thought, ‘These are the people who encouraged me to get on this to begin with,’” said Boxer Wachler, referring to his family.
“And I had all this success, and now they’re trying to take me down.”
After his family’s intervention, he said he “doubled down” on his dedication to TikTok, trying to get more followers, likes and interaction.
AFTER FENTANYL KILLED HER SOULMATE, RECOVERING DRUG USER FIGHTS TO END STIGMA OF ADDICTION
The experience of waking up to “10,000, 20,000 new followers” on his TikTok account created an intense dopamine rush, Boxer Wachler said.
“Dopamine is the same neurochemical in our brain that’s behind addictions,” he continued.
“You know — sex addiction, drug addiction, gambling addiction.”
Fox News Digital reached out to TikTok on the topic of social media addiction, both in the recent past and again for this story.
But the constant dopamine high came to a halt, Dr. Boxer Wachler said, when one of his videos was given a “community guideline violation.” That meant his account would be suppressed for a period of two weeks.
While he could still make videos, those new videos did not have the same reach as his past content. They were not going viral, he said.
“I went through essentially withdrawals,” he explained.
“And that’s another sign of addiction, no matter what type of addiction it is. If you can’t get what you were getting, you go through withdrawal.”
His mental health was deteriorating, Boxer Walcher said he realized, noting that he had “a lot of anxiety” and was “really upset” during the time his account was suppressed. Reflecting further on the intervention staged by his wife and children — he realized they were right.
“I realized, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’d been putting my virtual family ahead of my own family and ignoring my own family,'” he said.
He said he came to understand that he’d been ignoring his loved ones “all the time” so he could answer DMs, watch videos and respond to comments on his TikTok account.
“I remember going to the bedroom, closing the door and just crying,” he revealed.
This experience prompted him to write his book — as a way to help people understand the warning signs of social media addiction.
“It’s a bigger problem than people realize,” he said. “I wanted people to understand what these warning signs are.”
Some of the warning signs, he shared, include looking at one’s phone first thing in the morning and immediately before bed, as well as being unable to resist checking one’s phone after a notification or vibration.
These “could be signs of a problem,” he said.
In addition to providing warning signs about social media addiction, Boxer Wachler in his book suggests ideas on how to regulate social media usage.
WOMAN FIGHTING STAGE 4 BREAST CANCER AFTER LUMP IS MISDIAGNOSED: ‘FIGHT HARDER, DEMAND TESTING’
He said he’s used some of these ideas in his own case with great success.
He took a step back from the TikTok app, he said. He removed social media apps from his phone and now only posts from an iPad.
“If I’m going out to dinner or being with friends, it is not uncommon that I won’t even take my phone with me, and I don’t have my iPad with me,” he said. “So it makes it really easy.”
Part of the problem with treating social media addiction is that “there’s really no official diagnosis in the medical world” for the condition, Boxer Wachler said.
CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR LIFESTYLE NEWSLETTER
“So there’s a huge void.”
While he does think that one day “social media addiction” will become an official diagnosis, he hopes that his book will “help people to fill that void” based on his research and personal experiences.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
“I’m a doctor — and if a doctor like myself can experience this addiction [to] social media, so can you,” he said.
Rebel Wilson announced the birth of her daughter Monday on Instagram
Documentaries on Netflix are a dime a dozen, but a new trailer has caught our attention. Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? is set to chronicle a college student’s battle with the soda empire over a sweepstakes commercial that promises a customer could – in theory – win a $23 million Harrier fighter jet, just by buying a whole bunch of Pepsi.
A woman was speechless after realizing a restaurant employee who she'd never met before had the exact same tattoos as her.
"When you're older, it doesn't take long to recognize when you've found your soul mate," says Dr. Jennifer Ashton of her new husband, businessman Tom Werner
We've officially reached an all-time new low — sartorially speaking.
Mark Cuban suggested Elon Musk should keep certain users sweet with free verification.
Diddy was jumping over the moon after receiving a diamond chain from Yung Miami for his 53rd birthday.
Barry Diller said Mark Zuckerberg is chasing something that "doesn't yet exist" and questioned why he doesn't pay attention to his "basic business."
The best of both worlds.
Put this dress in a museum.
The actor dressed up as Yellowstone fan favorite Rip Wheeler and he nailed the look. Fans are calling for a cameo from Chris Pratt.
Melanie Martin, who shares son Prince with Aaron Carter, said she's still in the process of accepting the musician death.
Forget about $5 billion. Or $6 billion. Daniel Snyder wants more. Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reports that Snyder hopes to get $7 billion for the Commanders, and that he’s selling all of it — not some of it. If Snyder gets that amount, it would represent quite the return on his original investment of [more]
Selena Gomez discussed the mishap with Kelly Clarkson amid the release of her new documentary, "My Mind & Me."
Stock your wardrobe for the season now.
"My King @elliotpage took me out. ?," Mae Martin captioned a photo gallery on Instagram alongside Elliot Page
A pilot named Sabrina, or @sabrinaleej on Tiktok, shared a story about how she was mistaken for a flight attendant by an unaware airport employee.
In 'The White Lotus' Season 2, Harper (Aubrey Plaza) confronts male nudity more than once. Here's the meaning behind Ethan's (Will Sharpe) nudity in Episode 2.
Sorry, losers. You could never be this cool.View Entire Post ›
There's no denying Halle Berry is a fashion icon, from the floral dress she wore to the 2002 Oscars to her Golden Globes stunner from 2019. And now, the Monster's Ball actress just showed off another jaw-dropping 'fit with her latest post on Instagram. In her new snap, the 56-year-old star went for a classic, all-black look, and while we've seen Berry rock the little black dress (or LBD) on numerous occasions, she surprised us this time by pairing black slacks and a sheer, floral top over peek-a
Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler wasn’t addicted to alcohol, drugs or gambling.