TikTok is our latest go-to for funny videos, parenting hacks, and, of course, quirky dances that our children are obsessed with. However, it’s not all fun, games, and dancing. Some of the trends on TikTok are incredibly dangerous.
Take the Blackout Challenge, for example. This challenge involves children and teens filming themselves holding their breath until they lose consciousness. They then upload the videos to TikTok. It’s also known as the Passout Challenge, Speed Dreaming, Fainting Game or The Game of Choking.
Clearly, this is concerning. Our job as parents is to keep our kids safe and if this is the kind of thing they are being exposed to on TikTok, then we need to know about it.
Recently 12-year-old Joshua from Colorado, USA lost his life due to the Blackout Challenge. He was found unconscious by his twin brother at home, after attempting to choke himself with a shoelace. His parents had no idea what the Blackout Challenge was or that their son was playing it.
According to his GoFundMe page, which now sits close to $200,000,
Everyone who knows Joshua can tell you what an incredibly intelligent, funny, caring, and gifted 12 year old he is. Together with his twin brother, he would learn and master new hobbies out of pure curiosity and drive.”
Joshua’s dad, Haileyesus Zeryihun, told CBS4 he “would never imagine my son would do such a thing”.
“I’m paying the price right now, I’m living the life, and I hate for other parents to go through this,” he said.
Joshua isn’t the first child to die from the Blackout Challenge. In Italy this past February, a 10-year-old little girl died after accepting the dare.
Most children and teens dabble in social media. It’s the way of life now. However, TikTok has always been a bit of a danger zone. Last year a man filmed himself committing suicide which was then uploaded to TikTok and shared around.
There have also been several other TikTok challenges that have stolen the lives of our kids.
Blue Whale Challenge
This challenge encourages teens to complete 50 challenges in 50 days, the last being suicide. It allegedly started in Russia in 2016 and has allegedly been linked to hundreds of deaths.
The Blue Whale Challenge has since reappeared in the UK more recently.
Parents should be aware of:
- Any messages that relate to a person called Jonathan Galindo.
- Any messages from a person with his face painted as either Mickey Mouse or a dog.
- Messages that make reference to #f57, #f40 or #IMaWhale”.
- Any change in sleeping or eating habits.
- Wearing long-sleeved clothing to disguise self-harm.
- Taking and uploading photographs of activities and sending them to accounts that you don’t recognise.
Skull Breaking Challenge
Essentially the challenge involves two people tricking a third person into jumping into the air and then kicking their feet out from under them. This is also known as the Trip Jump Challenge.
The person being tripped has a very good chance of landing on his skull. Kids have been knocked unconscious and there have been reports of two deaths abroad.
Keeping your kids safe
Below are a few suggestions for keeping your kids safe.
- Be aware – Knowing what dangerous TikTok trends are out there is your best defense.
- Check-in with them – Talk to them about what they are watching, seeing, etc. Remind them that social media and real-life are very different!
- Set limits – If their social media habits are getting out of control, set limits or take the devices away.
While having the internet at our kids’ fingertips can be good for many reasons, it can also be a recipe for disaster. Impressionable and impulsive teens, thousands of opinions and stupid ideas, all only a click away. It’s so important that we are keeping an eye on our kids’ social media use and that they understand the limits and dangers involved.