It’s now September and the kids are firmly back in school!
As well as meeting new teachers and classmates, and navigating school corridors and timetables, kids of today are also negotiating their way around the latest social media platforms, and what’s trending.
Unfortunately, what’s currently in fashion where social media is concerned isn’t always rosy. Over the summer, the tragic story of Archie Battersbee unfolded, resulting in his life support being turned off, months after he attempted the TikTok Blackout Challenge – and yet this hasn’t stopped other teenagers from attempting, and losing their lives to, the same challenge.
As parents, we need to be aware of what ‘challenges’ are in vogue on social media – some may seem innocuous, some alarmingly dangerous, and no child should ever feel peer pressured to try something they don’t feel comfortable with.
Which are the latest dangerous crazes that have emerged from social media?
The ‘Blackout Challenge’ has been around since 2008, but while it seemed to dissipate for a while, it resurfaced in 2021, causing untold agony for parents and families. Also known as the ‘Choking Challenge’, the Blackout Challenge encourages the participant to hold their breath until they pass out.
What people may not realize is that the resultant loss of oxygen to the brain can in fact cause irreparable brain damage, and in extreme cases result in loss of life. According to the CDC, the Blackout Challenge has been responsible for over 80 deaths – and that number has only increased since it re-emerged as a TikTok challenge.
We strongly urge our readers to look out for the following signs that someone may be attempting this challenge:
🚫 Bloodshot eyes
🚫 Marks on their neck
🚫 A sense of disorientation after spending time on their own
🚫 Severe headaches
If you fear that someone may be at risk, seek help and advice immediately.
Angel of Death Challenge
This challenge originated in Indonesia in 2021 and saw a resurgence in 2022. It involves jumping in front of a moving vehicle and acting on the assumption that said vehicle will stop in time. Unfortunately, and realistically, this is not always the case – and footage was posted in June of this year of a group of teenagers trying the challenge, resulting in death.
Common sense should tell us that this is undoubtedly an awful challenge to attempt to do – but again, the widespread nature of social media trends can lead to susceptible young people being misled, and mistaking ‘dangerous’ and ‘risky’ for ‘fun’ and ‘exciting’.
Sweeping across the States this summer, the Orbeez challenge involves shooting water beads, which are sometimes frozen into hard pellets, out of a toy or air gun.
Pointing any kind of weapon at somebody else, however harmless your intention may be, is never acceptable. If these pellets strike someone on the head, they can actually kill – leading to this challenge now being a prosecutable offense.
There are many more challenges of varying degrees of danger that are possible to view online – and we urge you to discourage your family members from viewing these as anything but the dangerous pranks that they are. It’s vital that parents and teachers warn kids and students about the dangers of trying out these challenges.
TikTok itself has its own rules and guidelines to try and eliminate any dangerous activity, and there is the option to report videos or images that may be on the social media site.
How can you report content on TikTok?
❇️ On the right-hand side of a TikTok video, find and click on the white arrow
❇️ Tap the ‘report’ icon / flag symbol
❇️ Continue to follow the instructions provided in order to report dangerous content
In addition, we recommend using a top parental control app, such as FamilyKeeper, that can notify you when your child visits an inappropriate site, provides alerts when incendiary keywords are used, and lets you block specific platforms and content. Let this school year be one with peace of mind for your family – read more about staying cyber safe at https://familykeeper.reasonlabs.com
You are also most welcome to join our Facebook group Digital World Parenting for advice from experts, tips from other parents, and to join our parenting discussion board.