NEWS Technology

Viral TikTok Challenge to Blame for Another Teen’s Death

Last month we shared the devastating news that two little girls, Lalani and Arri, aged just 8 and 9, had died taking part in a TikTok challenge known as the Blackout Challenge.

Both of them wanted to be “TikTok famous’. Both were shown, through their TikTok feeds, the Blackout Challenge. Both of them tried it. Neither survived.

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Lalani and Arri. Source: GoFundMe

This particular viral challenge encourages people to see how long they can hold their breath. Also known as the Passout Challenge, Speed Dreaming, Fainting Game or the Game of Choking, the game basically encourages young children to lose consciousness.

It’s not just Lalani and Arri who have died after trying the BlackOut Challenge.

Just this week 14-year-old, Leon Brown, from Scotland, was found dead in his bedroom after attempting the challenge through Facetime.

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Leon with his mum, Lauryn. Source: Manchester Evening News

His heartbroken mum, Lauryn, has spoken out about what happened and issued a very important warning to all parents out there.

‘He meant so much to me’ 

Speaking to the Daily Record, Lauryn said:

One of Leon’s friends told me he had been doing the challenge on Facetime with them after seeing it on TikTok.

My Leon thought he would be the one to try it first. Him and his friends probably thought it was a laugh and a joke.

One of the kids who he was on Facetime with told me what he had done. She said they thought they would wake up. But Leon didn’t come back around. It went horribly wrong.”

Leon is described as a funny, happy 14-year-old who was a bit of a class clown and loved making people laugh.

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Source: Manchester Evening News

Everything was always a joke and a carry on to Leon. He was just a wee cheeky boy. But he meant so much to me,” his heartbroken mum said.

After losing her son, Lauryn decided to investigate the TikTok Blackout Challenge herself. She went on TikTok, typed the name of the challenge into the search bar and was horrified at how many videos came up.

The amount of video results that came up on it is ridiculous.”

FACT: There have been dozens of children who have lost their lives due to this challenge, including Archie Battersbee, whose life support was recently turned off after being deemed brain dead by doctors, as well as 12-year-old Joshua, who took part in the challenge in 2021.

Even more children and teens are seriously injured.

‘They aren’t worth the likes’ 

I had heard of this challenge, because of what happened to Archie Battersbee,” Lauryn added.  “But you just don’t expect your own child to do it.

Please warn them, these online challenges aren’t worth their lives. They aren’t worth ‘likes’ or whatever they are doing it for.”

TikTok responds

TikTok told the Record it has measures in place to prevent users from sharing videos on the trend and searching the term ‘Blackout Challenge’ takes users to a safety centre on the app.

Users are also able to report any videos that contain graphic content. TikTok also deletes videos of the challenge from the platform.

A TikTok spokesperson said:

Our deepest sympathies go out to Leon Brown’s family during this incredibly difficult time. The safety of our community is our priority and we take any claim about a dangerous challenge very seriously. Content of this nature is prohibited on our platform and would be removed if found.”

Staying aware 

This scary truth is that inappropriate things, such as the Blackout Challenge, are being shown in people’s feeds every day. Many of these people are teens and tweens.

While we are aware that TikTok is not meant for anyone under the age of 12, many younger children do have accounts or have the ability to access our phones and browse through our own feeds.

There are a few other dangerous TikTok trends out there. Our first port of call, as parents, is to be aware of these challenges and to talk to our kids about them. Have the conversation. Then have it again. And again. And again. Not to scare, but to make them aware.

Check-in with them. Yes, you can ban TikTik entirely but this may backfire. It’s best to be open and ensure they are communicating what they are seeing and doing online. No hiding. If you can’t trust them, check. Check their history. Monitor their accounts. Ensure they aren’t posting anything personal.

We need to be constantly reminding them that TikTok is not real life and, that as tempting as it is to become TikTok famous, this is not the way to do it.

Finally, set limits. If their social media habits are getting out of control, set limits or take the devices away. Yes, you’ll be hated for a little bit. But they will forgive you, possibly even thank you, one day.

If you need help, please contact one of these services

Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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