What is TikTok?
TikTok, a social media platform known for its short-form videos, has become a cultural phenomenon, particularly among teenagers and young adults. Users can create, share, and discover a wide range of content, from dances and lip-syncing to educational videos and creative challenges.
Dangerous TikTok challenges
While TikTok provides a space for creativity and self-expression, it has also witnessed the emergence of dangerous TikTok challenges that pose serious risks to the safety and well-being of users, especially teens. These challenges often go viral, spreading rapidly across the platform and garnering attention for all the wrong reasons.
Notorious examples of the most popular TikTok challenges that have proven dangerous include:
- Tide Pod Challenge: In the Tide Pod Challenge, followers were encouraged to ingest laundry detergent pods, risking poisoning and serious health complications.
- Skull Breaker Challenge: The brutal Skull Break Challenge involved two individuals tricking a third person into jumping, only to kick their legs out from under them, causing them to fall dangerously backward.
- Benadryl Challenge: In the Benadryl Challenge, teens were encouraged to take excessive amounts of Benadryl to induce hallucinations, leading to cases of overdose and hospitalization.
- Salt and Ice Challenge: The Salt and Ice challenge led to health risks such as frostbite and second-degree burns and blisters, as participants applied salt to their skin and placed an ice cube on top, causing a burning and subsequent health risks.
Latest TikTok viral dangers
Another worrying trend that has emerged is to encourage users to break the law. Shoplifting has become the latest nationwide epidemic in the US - with TikTok actively providing tips and tricks on how to shoplift. This moral corruption among TikTok users is extremely worrying and is something that the platform should be dealing with.
Going one step even further, kids don’t even have to be on the TikTok platform to learn about these challenges. A recent case involved a 10-year-old asking Alexa for an Internet challenge, and Alexa obligingly provided the child with details on how to enact the Penny Challenge - whereby participants plug a charger halfway into a socket and then make a penny touch the exposed prongs, resulting in short circuits and electrical sparks.
With youngsters being able to access these dangerous challenges through AI aids such as Alexa, this poses an even greater parenting nightmare.
Protecting kids from inappropriate TikTok challenges: How can parents help?
TikTok can be an enjoyable platform for creativity and self-expression, but the emergence of dangerous challenges poses a significant concern. Parents can play a crucial role in guiding their teens to use TikTok and other social media platforms responsibly and safely by fostering open communication, setting boundaries, and staying informed.
Being aware of the various challenges is the first port of call but there are a few tips that parents can follow in order to protect their kids from following these challenges:
- Open communication: Establish an open line of communication with your teen. Encourage them to share their online experiences and express any concerns they may have.
- Monitor content: Regularly check the content your teen is engaging with on TikTok. Be aware of the challenges circulating on the platform and discuss potential dangers with your child.
- Set boundaries: Establish clear guidelines regarding screen time, app usage, and appropriate content. Discuss the potential consequences of engaging in dangerous challenges.
- Discuss the consequences: Inform your teen about the real-life consequences of participating in dangerous challenges, including potential injuries, legal issues, and the impact on their overall well-being.
- Encourage critical thinking: Teach your teen to think critically about the content they encounter. Encourage skepticism and help them understand the difference between harmless trends and risky challenges.
- Be a positive role model: Demonstrate responsible online behavior. Your actions and attitudes toward social media can influence your teen's approach to using these platforms.
Parents can also leverage parental control software, such as the FamilyKeeper app monitoring or keyword monitoring features, that will alert parents if their child is being subjected to something untoward. These tools can help manage content, restrict certain features, and enhance online safety.
For more information on how FamilyKeeper can help families navigate online apps and safeguard young users, visit familykeeper.reasonlabs.com.