LOS ANGELES — Social media has the power to influence more and more of us every day, so is anyone immune from it? 

Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler set out to answer that very question in his new book, “Influenced: The Impact of Social Media on Our Perception.”

“I wanted to write this book as a wake up call, as a 911 call to action for people not only about themselves but also for their children,” Boxer Wachler said.

Many may recognize him from TikTok, where he picked up over three million followers in less than three years. Dr. Brian, as he’s known, is a Beverly Hills eye doctor, who joined TikTok during the COVID shutdown at the urging of his twin teenage daughters.

“I really found my niche in terms of finding viral videos that were happening that had information that was totally bogus,” he said.

Bogus, or in slang terms, “Cap.”

(Spectrum News 1/Ariel Wesler)

Dr. Brian made a name for himself through busting health myths and lies posted on TikTok, but he quickly fell victim to the addictive nature of views, likes, shares and followers.

“I didn’t expect that and I mean, when I say addictive, I mean it was interfering with my relationships with my daughters and also with my wife,” he said. “My daughters would want to talk to me about their day, which for teenagers is already really rare, but I would be just like so into my phone, my iPad and just not even really listening to them.”

Dr. Brian said it got to the point where his wife and children had to sit him down for an intervention. He said the biggest mistake parents often make is not looking at their children’s social media apps.

“So they're just running loose in a totally new wilderness and you have no idea if they’re going to be susceptible to some really harmful influences,” he said.

He also added that kids cannot self-regulate very well because their brains haven’t developed that capability yet, and research shows parents who use the apps themselves will have an easier time talking to their kids. 

“Then, you can talk to your kids from that position of credibility, like, ‘Yes, I’m on TikTok. I’ve seen it. I’d like to see who you’re following,’” he said. 

“If you’re going to have your kids go out to a park, you’re going to want to know about that park before you let them go. It’s no different with looking at the apps as a parent,” he added.

He warns just because a video has millions of views doesn’t mean the content is accurate because he says the algorithms aren’t designed to check for that.

“Social media is like fire. It can be used for illumination, but you can also badly burn yourself,” Boxer Wachler said.

“A lot of critical thinking skills have checked out at this point, and that’s why I wrote the book.”

A modern day guide to helping people navigate the unpredictable and persuasive power of social media.

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