Despite the predominance of ADHD as a topic in social media, there is still a substantial research gap in this field. The present study explores the frequency in which social network gratifications are mentioned in the comments of YouTube and TikTok videos about adult ADHD, and if there is a meaningful difference between both platforms.
The categorization of uses and gratifications for social networks by Sundar and Limperos (2013) was implemented alongside the diagnosis stages from the study by Fleischmann and Fleischmann (2012) to identify how often commenters on YouTube videos about adult ADHD mention the usefulness of the content (Interpersonal Utility, RQ1), feeling understood (Sharing Identity, RQ2), and feeling connected to others (Social Interaction and Connectedness, RQ3), and how often they seek (RQ4) and share information (RQ5) compared to TikTok.
A sample of n=5,000 comments from 50 videos (2,500 comments from 25 YouTube videos, and 2,500 comments from 25 TikTok videos), was subjected to a quantitative media content analysis. The codebook consists of 20 categories and proved to be reliable in the pretest (all Cohen’s Kappa coefficients >.75). The descriptive and inferential statistical data analyses (2×2 crosstabulation with a Pearson’s Chi-Squared test) were carried out with the program package R.
YouTube commenters share personal information about ADHD such as symptoms, treatments, tips, or struggles, in a higher number (60.9%) compared to TikTok commenters (14.3%). Additionally, they mention if the information in the videos is useful or relevant more often (12.5%) than commenters on TikTok (4.6%). Most commenters who share information on YouTube do not specify their ADHD diagnosis status (42.5%). This is also the case for TikTok (13.2%).
The present study reveals that a high number of people use YouTube and TikTok to seek and share information about ADHD, and to find relatable content. This amount of publicly available information could be helpful for mental health professionals and communicators to gather relevant data about the presence of ADHD on social media.