Staying on top of the latest TikTok challenges can help keep your children safe as they explore social media. Here’s what’s happening and how to address dangerous teen trends with your child.
Social media is ubiquitous for today’s youth. Teens spend more than 90 minutes on social media each day, and the number of tweens on social media is up by 38%, Common Sense Media reported. As the amount of time kids spend on Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok increases, concerns are cropping up among parents and teachers. Social media helped young adults stay connected during the pandemic, but it does have a downside. Experts contend social media can negatively impact mental health, disrupt sleep, and open kids up to bullying and peer pressure.
One platform gaining nationwide attention for its dangerous pranks and challenges, particularly among law enforcement, is TikTok. The popular social media app has more than one billion active users worldwide and generated roughly $4.6 billion in revenue in 2021. Its claim to fame is allowing users to share short videos with their followers. While many TikTok challenges are harmless, parents and teachers are seeing a rise in the number of dangerous TikTok challenges.
In February, TikTok implemented a stronger safety policy to address the public’s concerns. The company said it removes videos depicting “dangerous acts and challenges performed by non-professionals, which may lead to severe injury or death for the user or the public.” TikTok removed 91 million offensive videos during the third quarter of 2021, including many before they received any views. Many of these social media challenges did not originate on TikTok but have slipped through the cracks on the platform.
Dangerous TikTok Challenges
From country-wide police reports about kids shooting people with Orbeez pellets to dancing outside a moving car, there are dozens of social media challenges. Other challenges include the blackout or “Choking Challenge.” Participants hold their breath until they pass out from a lack of oxygen. At least four children in the United States died from participating in the challenge, including a 10-year-old. Another trend called the “Mirror Fire Challenge” sent a 13-year-old girl in Portland, Oregon, to the hospital with third-degree burns. This dangerous fire challenge prompts participants to spray a shape on their mirror with a flammable liquid, like aerosol hairspray. Then they hit “record,” turn out the lights, and light it on fire. Here’s a list of more dangerous TikTok challenges that parents should be aware of.
How Do I Start the Conversation?
At Talk It Out NC, we advocate for parents to talk to their children about the perils of underage drinking. Starting the conversation about drinking can help keep them safe. Underage drinking can lead to drinking problems as an adult. Approximately 95% of people who are alcohol dependent started drinking before they turned 21. Seven million kids ages 12 to 20 reported that they drank alcohol in 2019. Having open conversations can prevent your children from becoming a statistic.
Talk It Out NC encourages parents to apply a similar strategy to social media. Arm yourself with the facts and talk to your kids about the danger of accepting a TikTok challenge. At the dinner table, bring up dangerous teen trends as they arise. Discuss your concerns and get feedback from your kids about how the challenges impact their classmates.
In addition to keeping the lines of communications open, parents have a few other tools in their arsenal to keep kids safe on TikTok.
- Set Clear Guidelines. Make sure your children know what content you deem inappropriate.
- Go Private. Make sure your children change their TikTok settings to private when they open their account. A private account allows them to approve or deny follower requests and limits the people who can see their posts.
- Follow Your Kids. Following your child on social media can help you monitor their actions online and nip any issues in the bud before they become a major problem.
- Tap ‘Not Interested.’ TikTok has a feature allowing you to tap “Not Interested” on any of its videos. Encourage your kids to tap “Not Interested” on inappropriate videos to prevent similar content from popping up in their feed.
- Set Restrictions. Your kids might not like it, but parents can enable “Restricted Mode” to prevent unwelcome exposure to dangerous TikTok challenges. “Restricted Mode” is necessary for parents of younger children who may be less likely to understand the risks and consequences of accepting a dangerous TikTok challenge.
Look on the Bright Side
Don’t fear, parents! TikTok is not all gloom and doom, and not all TikTok challenges are dangerous. Some help to improve self-esteem and encourage family bonding. During the pandemic, families filmed themselves performing popular TikTok dance moves to stay entertained. The “No-Filter Challenge” encourages users to debut a filter-free post to let people see how they look without the benefit of technological enhancements.
Visit Talk It Out NC for tips on communicating with your teen about what they see online, including underage drinking. Take the Pledge to stop underage drinking by starting the conversation about drinking with your kids.