Social media trends and challenges have been a source of entertainment and solitude for many. Especially during the peak of COVID-19 when people were mandated to observe the lockdown, there sure had to be a way to deal with the idleness and boredom during the time. Tiktok is presently the most popular social media platform for kids and tweens, having had nearly 3 billion downloads. However, the dangers of addiction and the craze have been largely disregarded.
TikTok is no stranger to dangerous viral trends. From the skull breaker challenge to the cereal challenge, which involves one participant laying down with an open mouth filled with cereal or juice, then another participant consumes a spoonful of the cereal or juice right from the open mouth in an attempt to entertain viewers through disgust.
The blackout challenge was one of the riskiest trends to appear on TikTok in 2021. In this challenge, users hold their breath until they pass out due to lack oxygen. Although the challenge is not a new idea, its resurrection is making it more common among youthful users, which is killing them. A 12-year-old boy from the United Kingdom is a victim.
The dangers of addiction and the craze have been largely disregarded by many. Steven Boadi, a new media expert says there is a great concern, especially with unsupervised teenagers. “Almost every social media platform is used by everybody and so the challenge is that kids are exposed to just anybody chatting them up. The only way to prevent this is to restrict who can dm you”, he said.
But not all these stunts followers copy is real, some of them are make-believe, Jackline Mensah explains. “There are videos for editing, so it is not real. It is just like watching wrestling or boxing, they’ll tell you not to practice at home. This is because some of them are not real. So, you practice them at home, you’re cutting your life short. Do not engage in those challenges”, she said.
That notwithstanding, there are a lot of concerns that uncontrolled use of of Tiktok by kids and teenagers pose. Parents should pay more attention to the social media platforms that their children use. Learning these stunts or challenges on social media by teenagers might be inevitable but parents are faced by the utmost responsibility to ensure their children’s safety while on these platforms.
>>>the writer is a student at the Ghana Institute of Journalism