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Tweens, TikTok and the real cost of content

Zofishan Umair

Zofishan Umair

Zofishan is a journalist, humour columnist, and a mum who has survived nappy explosions mid-air. She has over a decade of experience writing for print and online publications and is currently working on her first book.
Created on Oct 30, 2023 · 7 mins read
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You remember what it was like to be a tween and even a teenager, right? There was this constant pressure to be cool, to act like a badass.

You may have pushed some boundaries and experimented with a few things yourself back in the day. As a preteen you may have been defiant and answered back to your parents. Then, as you got older, you may have even tried sneaking out, getting a tattoo, or even smoking pot. It wasn’t the best idea, but hey, you did it because all your friends were doing it, and that logic seemed good enough back then.

After all, everyone acts out a little at that age, right? You are not proud of it, but looking back, you wish you’d made smarter decisions. Luckily, your parents kept a strict eye on you and you had a curfew. Once you were in your room, you were pretty much safe from any antics that your peers were raving about in those days.

Now add smartphones and internet trends to the mix, and parenting has become trickier. Strict curfews and chaperoned parties just aren’t enough, because leading our kids into the well of bad decisions are TikTok trends. Some are cute and harmless, like ‘Flip the Switch”, while others have led multiple children straight to the ER.

Some recover and get a second chance, while others, like 13-year-old Esra Haynes, never make it home.

Sleepover turns tragic

Esra, an eighth grader in Melbourne, was at a sleepover with friends when they decided to try the TikTok trend of “Chroming.” Kids inhale chemicals from household aerosol sprays like deodorants hoping to get high, which to a 13-year-old kid might seem pretty harmless.

Unfortunately, it isn’t. Esra suffered brain damage and cardiac arrest, which eventually led to her death a week later.

Here are some horrible TikTok trends that you should know about:

Dangerous Tik Tok Trends

1. Bus Surfing

“Bus Surfing” is a dangerous TikTok trend in which kids attempt to steal a free ride by clinging to the back of a moving bus out of sight of the driver.

Recently, one person in Canberra, Australia, reported seeing three young people bus surfing. (The kids were trying to record it too.)

The prevalence of bus surfing videos and the attention they receive on TikTok have concerned social media users and the general public. Many are (rightfully) concerned about the possibility of harm and authorities have publicly condemned this conduct and warned of the significant risk of injury as a result of it.

The popularity of TikTok bus surfing demonstrates how online communities can encourage and amplify risky behaviour. TikTok’s accessibility and virility facilitate the rapid spread of phenomena such as bus surfing, with often unanticipated and devastating consequences. As a result, there is a growing need for platforms, users, and authorities to work together in order to warn people about the risks of these trends and encourage responsible internet use.

2. The Blackout Challenge:

Kids participating in the horrifying “Blackout Challenge” intentionally induce unconsciousness or asphyxiation, typically by strangling themselves or restricting their oxygen supply. The goal is to have a brief “blackout” or loss of consciousness, which some participants mistake for a thrilling or euphoric feeling.

As you can imagine, the consequences of this trend can be disastrous.

Kids who take part in the Blackout Challenge put themselves in grave danger. Brain damage, seizures, and long-term cognitive impairments can result from a lack of oxygen. Constriction of the neck or pressure on the carotid arteries increases the risk of asphyxiation, which can lead to suffocation and death. Even brief periods of oxygen deprivation can cause irreversible brain damage, affecting a person’s quality of life indefinitely.

3. Beezin Challenge

Lip balms seem safe, right?

While some may view the “Beezin Challenge” as a harmless prank or a source of amusement, it can have severe consequences. The trend involves people putting Burt’s Bees lip balm on their eyelids. Why, you may ask? Well, it’s thought that the menthol or peppermint oil in the product will make you feel more alert.

However, when applied to the delicate skin around the eyes, these substances can lead to inflammation, discomfort, and potential damage to the eye’s sensitive tissues.  What’s really scary to see is that most of these reckless trends require simple household products that were once safe, catching parents completely off guard.

4. Dry-Scooping

Another concerning challenge is called “Dry-Scooping”. This trend involves consuming pre-workout powder without diluting it with water or any other liquid. Kids may find it exhilarating, and are often unaware of the serious risks associated with it

Consuming powder without proper dilution can lead to adverse effects such as heart palpitations, an elevated heart rate, high blood pressure, dehydration, and, in extreme cases, heart attacks or strokes

What’s the latest dangerous TikTok challenge?

Apart from “Bus Surfing” and “Chroming” the following two trends are quite recent and still making rounds on the internet:

The Benadryl Challenge

“The Benadryl Challenge”, which gained attention on TikTok, is a dangerous trend involving the misuse and abuse of the over-the-counter medication Benadryl.

Participants in this challenge intentionally take excessive doses of Benadryl to induce hallucinations or a “trip-like” experience. The active ingredient in Benadryl, diphenhydramine, is an antihistamine that can cause sedation and drowsiness when taken in the recommended doses. However, consuming large amounts of Benadryl can lead to severe health risks.

Overdosing on diphenhydramine can result in a rapid heartbeat, dangerously low blood pressure, seizures, confusion, agitation, and even organ failure. The hallucinations experienced are often described as frightening and unsettling, and they can put individuals in vulnerable and unsafe situations.

The Benadryl Challenge poses significant dangers, particularly for young people who may be influenced by viral trends on social media. A 13 year old boy died in Ohio earlier this year. His death should have been a lesson for others, but it wasn’t. That same month, another mum in New Jersey found her son on the floor and had to rush him to the ER.

Even though TikTok has banned searches and the FDA has issued warnings, the trend continues, making parents question how they can protect their children.

The Orbeez Shooting Challenge

The “Orbeez Challenge” on TikTok, which began as a harmless, silly social media trend, has evolved into deadly scenarios involving real firearms and contacts with law enforcement authorities. This challenge has grown in popularity among TikTok’s Gen Z users in the last month and involves shooting Orbeez, which are gelatinous pellets, at others with toy guns or even airsoft rifles. While these plastic shells are normally harmless, there have been occasions in which people have been injured.

In Georgia, USA, a 10-year-old got a bloody nose, while a teacher in Florida had an Orbeez briefly caught in her nose. Although Orbeez is soft, a large quantity can inflict injury and skin damage when fired from a rifle. To make matters worse, the police claim that some people have been caught freezing the water gel beads to increase their impact. While most TikTok videos show youngsters laughing and engaged in friendly shootouts, it’s important to recognise that this movement isn’t only about having fun.

Knowing about these trends and talking to our kids about the dangers is the first step to preventing tragedies and deaths. Teaching them that not everything they see on the internet is real can help them make good decisions and let them know the real cost of content with risky challenges: their life.

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