What parents need to know about the TikTok blackout challenge that has claimed the lives of teens and children.
Another TikTok challenge has led children to harm themselves and even die. The blackout challenge became popular in May and circulated at such a rate that the site’s algorithms suggested it to children as young as eight years old. At least seven children have died attempting to take the blackout challenge.
The blackout challenge encourages viewers to strangle themselves until they pass out. This is done with belts, ropes, cords, and other means of choking. Back in May, a lawsuit was filed against TikTok when a 10 year old girl died from participating in the deadly challenge.
Videos of this blackout challenge were discovered on the girl’s “For You” recommendations. The lawsuit claimed that the company is liable for not taking necessary action to suppress the videos in their algorithms. Unfortunately, a TikTok spokesperson claimed that the challenge predates the platform and has “never been a TikTok trend.”
Now, two more young girls have died taking the blackout challenge after watching others do it on TikTok and parents of the children are suing as well. An 8-year-old girl from Texas was found “hanging from her bed with a rope around her neck.” Investigators found that she had been repeatedly watching blackout challenge videos before her death. A 9-year-old in Milwaukee attempted to use her dog’s leash to take the challenge and died in the family’s basement.
In Colorado and Oklahoma other children have died taking the blackout challenge, and deaths connected to this TikTok trend also span internationally. A 14 year old Australian boy, and a 10 year old Italian girl also died attempting to replicate the challenge by cutting off their air supply. The Social Media Victims Law Center declared that platform officials knew the challenge was spreading through their app and failed to take preventative action.
While many may agree, the blackout challenge is voluntary and so whether or not the courts rule in favor of the victims is uncertain. What parents need to know is that TikTok is a popular app among minors and a platform known for promoting challenges that have led some children to harm. From the milk crate challenge to the Orbeez challenge, many of these activities dare kids to do things that parents would not want them to.
In order to protect children from harming themselves by taking the blackout challenge or engaging in other reckless behavior, monitoring online behavior is a must. In addition, setting limits and even banning certain sites and apps through parental controls is often necessary. Many experts suggest that children should not have cell phones or engage in online apps until they are at least 13 years old.