7 Dangerous TikTok Challenges Parents Need to Know About
Entertaining as TikTok might be to some, the massively popular social media platform is constantly in hot water for peddling misinformation and dispensing fame to people who probably should stay off the internet altogether. Even though there are pockets of very nice, feel-good videos woven throughout this collection of online content, there’s a danger lurking that parent of young social media users should be wary of: Dangerous TikTok Challenges.
From eating scorching hot tortilla chips to kicking in doors of random homes, as well as less serious but still inappropriate trends, challenges continue to pop up regularly on the For You Pages of impressionable viewers. While most kids, hopefully, will not take part in any of these activities, it’s still important for all parents to be aware of what their kids could be seeing, and to know what they can do to prevent their child from joining in on dangerous behavior.
Dangerous TikTok Challenges
TikTok trends and challenges tend to rise, fall and sometimes return in popularity. We put together this list of a just a few dangerous challenges to note to help keep parents informed:
One Chip Challenge. This challenge made headlines after a Massachusetts teen tragically died this month after eating an extremely spicy tortilla chip. As part of the challenge, participants eat the chip and then see how long they can go without food or water for relief from the intense heat. (New York Family covered the challenge last year.)
Shoplifting Challenge. This challenge tries to glorify—you guessed it—shoplifting. It involves mostly young people filming themselves stealing from stores. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as many retail shops around the city are continuing to lock up their merchandise in an effort to curtail shoplifting. TikTok users are also sharing information about how to steal and showing off products they recently took from stores, as noted in this Daily Mail article. Some even rank stores on how easy it is to steal from them.
Chroming. This involves inhaling chemicals to get intoxicated. This dangerous activity isn’t new, but it’s trending again.
NyQuil Chicken. Also known as ‘sleepy chicken,’ people marinate chicken in the liquid cold remedy presumably to eat. The FDA advised of the dangers, saying boiling a medication can make it much more concentrated, adding, “Someone could take a dangerously high amount of the cough and cold medicine without even realizing it.”
Door Kick Challenge. The goal of this challenge is to hit the doors of homes and then run away while filming. In July, police in Delaware issued a warning about it, as well as a news release with images of suspects.
Benadryl Challenge. This challenge, which has been going on for years, involves participants taking large doses of the popular allergy medicine, Benadryl. A 13-year-old boy in Ohio tragically died when he was participating in the challenge.
The Cha-Cha Slide Challenge. This one is exceptionally dangerous and involves people—quite often teenagers—recklessly driving along to the directionally descriptive lyrics of the song, Cha-Cha Slide. It’s had TikTokers driving to words such as “slide to the left, slide to the right,” and “criss-cross,” making them swerve along the road. Needless to say, this not only puts the person doing the challenge in danger, but other drivers, too.
Protecting Kids from Dangerous TikTok Challenges
There are certainly some aspects of TikTok that are great. Cute animal videos, stories of hope and resilience and even a lot of light-hearted comedy that makes people of all ages laugh.
But unfortunately, there’s a flood of negative content on the platform, too. It’s difficult to monitor everything your child comes across on social media, but don’t worry… it’s not all doom and gloom. There are many things you can do to help deter your kids from doing something dangerous.
Parents: Put Down Your Own Phone
The first step parents can take to prevent their children from engaging in dangerous TikTok challenges (or similar challenges on any social media platform) is to be more engaged with their kids, Abbey Sangmeister, therapist, parent burnout coach and founder of Evolving Whole, said. And parents: It all begins with you putting down your own phone.
“Parents can model this by not being on their phones as much and being mindful of what they are doing on social media,” Sangmeister said. “The more connected parents are with their kids, the more those kids will talk to their parents about what they are seeing on social media and be honest about challenges they might want to try. When parents and children are connected, children will respond openly when parents have discussions with them about the safety and use of social media.”
Another important step parents can take to help prevent their kids from doing dangerous TikTok challenges is to talk to their kids about what to do if they are in a situation where they are being bullied into doing such a challenge.
“Talk with your kids about exit strategies along with ways to communicate and be assertive in saying NO,” Sangmeister said.
Preventing Your Child from Doing Dangerous TikTok Challenges: Get to Know Your Kid
Granahan shared these tips parents can use to help protect their kids from dangerous TikTok challenges and other dangerous social media challenges:
Know their patterns, habits and preferences. This will help you notice when those things are off. For example, is your son usually outgoing but now withdrawing? Does your daughter usually eat with you but is now eating in her room? These can be hints that something is going on.
Knowing what is important to your child allows you to speak to them from that place. If your child values control, talk with them about how these dangerous TikTok challenges or similar challenges often leave you feeling out of control. Or point out to them that they aren’t honoring what’s important to them by following the crowd.
If your child values being liked by others, talk with them from the perspective of not only your own feelings about them breaking the rules but also how these challenges do nothing to strengthen relationships. They create a false connection, not a real connection with others. Find the thing they are most motivated by and talk with them from that place.
Learn what you can about the challenges themselves. Find which ones most worry you and which ones might not be as concerning. Talk about this with your child. Your child thinks you are a “no” machine. Earn some credibility by giving your blessing for some and teaching them to be a critical thinker about the others. This will also keep your message from diluting by making a blanket statement about the challenges. Take the time to learn which are problematic and why.
Acknowledge that the challenges are probably fun. Connect with them on that. They are fun AND they are also a challenge. Completing a challenge brings bragging rights. Acknowledge this, and maybe other pluses to the social media challenges, and then let them know what is concerning.
One question that is really effective is, “When it’s all over, what will you wish you had done?” Help them to find the perspective that they haven’t found yet. It isn’t black and white, or a yes or no. It’s a “both/and” situation. This is fun and dangerous. This is a challenge and the risk is too great. Your child wants to be seen so see them by acknowledging the whole truth.
Be clear about why you don’t approve. Knowing why you are saying no is a big part of any strategy for encouraging your kids to say no and it also models critical thinking and decision-making for them.
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