Everyone knows (or should know) not to believe everything you see online. But one dad is wondering what he should do after discovering his own son is lying on social media.
The man discovered his 14-year-old son is "faking having a major, extremely stigmatised disability".
The dad took to the Slate Parenting Facebook group to first explain that his son is very active on TikTok. Because he uses the platform so frequently, as a parent he has always made sure to kept an eye on his son's account.
"I monitor his activity fairly routinely (with his permission) and I'm positive he's not sending or receiving inappropriate videos, interacting with people he doesn't personally know, or anything else high-risk", he wrote.
But he recently found something on the account, that's left him troubled and worried.
"I discovered a set of TikToks he posted where he's claiming to have been diagnosed with a very specific disability—he's posting things like "if you do x, you probably have y" and also sharing videos of himself doing certain actions that are characteristic of folks with this disability", he shared.
The dad explained that although his son does suffer from anxiety and depression, he is certain that he does not have the disability he claims to have in his videos.
He even went to the extent of checking in with his therapist and pediatrician to ensure he doesn't, "Neither saw any indication of anything remotely like this in him".
The dad is extremely worried about why his son would ever be inclined to "pursue this farce".
"It makes me wonder whether he's found some sort of "home" in this corner of the Internet, and that he's pretending he has this disability to make himself feel more valid, welcomed, or seen", he wrote.
After pleading for help, columnist Stacia L. Brown gave the dad a step by step plan on how to approach the situation with his son.
"First, let him know that you've seen his TikTok videos. Express your surprise that he self-identifies as a person with this condition and inquire further about why he feels he should be diagnosed with it", she suggested.
Brown stated that, even though the dad checked in with health care professionals to eliminate the possibility that he has the disability, there is a reason his son is pretending and he needs to find out exactly why.
"After you've had this talk, if he remains convinced that he has this disability, offer to have him assessed (or reassessed) by a new specialist.Offering him an additional assessment will affirm your commitment to getting him any assistance he needs and also remove all doubt about his self-diagnosis", Brown continued.
He was told that there was no excuse for his son's behaviour and as a parent he needed to make it a priority to get to the root of the problem, "His desire to find community could be part of the equation, but something larger is at issue here."