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No, Cyberbullying Does Not Cause Teenage Bedwetting!

By Steve Hodges, M.D.


On the subject of bedwetting, there’s a massive amount of false information floating around the universe. But I was particularly dismayed the other day by this headline: Study Ties Teenage Bedwetting to Cyberbullying.


First off, no such study exists.


Second, the article, published by Uken Report, a California “online news and marketing platform,” reinforces the myth that bedwetting is caused by stress or anxiety — a myth that prevents kids from receiving effective medical treatment.



Third, the article quotes no medical experts, only a “technology expert” who may not even exist and who purports to work for a cybersecurity company whose legitimacy is questionable. The article’s suggested “solutions” for teenage bedwetting? Purchasing cybersecurity apps.


All this is laughable and seemingly not worth writing about, except this article has been posted all over social media and contains misinformation that does real damage to kids like my patients.


I’m all for protecting children from cyberbullying. However, bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis) is caused by chronic constipation, not cyberbullying or any other form of psychological distress.



What actually triggers accidents: The rectum, enlarged by a pile-up of stool, presses against the bladder nerves, prompting the bladder to contract and empty without warning. Needless to say, cybersecurity will not resolve this.


Let’s look at the sleight of hand deployed by this article. It’s an instructive exercise that, I hope, will help parents distinguish fact from fiction when it comes to enuresis.


The article begins with a true statement: bedwetting is “more common among adolescents than you might think.”


Indeed, enuresis among teens is more common than autism. I have a large caseload of teens and tweens with enuresis.



Also true: cyberbullying exists and poses serious dangers to kids.


However, the Uken Report article takes an enormous leap into the evidence-free void, stating that 1.) bedwetting “can be symptomatic of stress, anxiety, or emotional trauma” and 2.) “the interconnection between online bullying and nocturnal enuresis is clear.”


Now, the idea that stress can trigger bedwetting is hardly new but is demonstrably false. How does the article support this supposed link?


With this: “Recent studies published by Frontiers indicate that bedwetting among teens can be a physical symptom of cyberbullying.”


But the article does not link to any such studies. I searched Frontiers, a publisher of open access scientific journals, and could not find a single study that mentions both cyberbullying and enuresis.


The article then quotes “cybersecurity expert” Steffan Black: “The human body often expresses internal turmoil through physical symptoms, and teenagers are no exception.”


This may be true, in general, but where is the evidence connecting cyberbullying with bedwetting?


Also, who is this Steffan Black, anyway? Supposedly, he works for a cybersecurity company called ZenShield. In numerous articles online, Steffan Black is referred to as a “a leading tech expert from ZenShield” and a “highly sought-after ZenShield expert.” However, his image and biography appear nowhere online. And while ZenShield.com exists, the website’s owner is hidden, according to ScamAdvisor.com. The site's address apparently is in Iceland, and nothing about the website's content or staff can be verified.


Keep in mind: “Steffan Black from ZenShield” is the article’s only source.


The article then refers to “a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Urology” — no citation or link provided — that found “enuresis alone could cause significant psychological distress, which could be exacerbated by factors such as bullying.”


Did you notice the bait-and-switch?


Certainly, bedwetting can cause significant psychological distress — I see this every day in my practice. But this does not mean significant psychological distress causes bedwetting.



X-ray children with enuresis, as I do, and you will find a rectum enlarged by a stool pile-up. It is the enlarged rectum, pressing against and aggravating the bladder nerves, that triggers bladder “hiccups” and accidents. Not stress.


Yet somehow, this mysterious cybersecurity expert has decided the culprit is online torment. “Cyberbullying significantly elevates the level of distress, becoming a potential trigger for bedwetting,” according to “Steffan Black from ZenShield.”

 

This is pure nonsense.


Black’s solution to bedwetting is to protect your child online with “technology solutions [that] mitigate the risk of bullying.” It appears that ZenShield sells this type of technology.


Of course, the actual solution to bedwetting is to treat the underlying constipation aggressively. Once the rectum is cleaned out and has a chance to shrink back to size, it will stop aggravating the bladder.



The “online news and marketing platform” that published this nonsense uses the motto “The Facts Come First.”


But clearly, the “facts” don’t rate at all. Parents beware: We have entered an alarming era of disinformation.

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