- The “blackout challenge” is the latest dangerous trend to hit TikTok.
- While it’s not new, the challenge’s resurgence is leading to deaths in young users.
- Now TikTok is facing a new lawsuit. Here’s what to know so far:
TikTok is no stranger to dangerous viral trends. From “dry-scooping” and eating pre-workout powder by itself to climbing on tall stacks of milk crates to removing your own IUD (!) eating massive amounts of frozen honey and corn syrup, the “blackout challenge” is just the latest in a string of activities that can harm users and even lead to death.
The “blackout challenge” has been around since at least 2008, according to People, but it started making the rounds on TikTok again in 2021. Experts are warning young users not to try the trend, which has led to more 80 deaths, per the CDC.
What is the ‘Blackout Challenge’?
Also referred to as the “choking challenge” or the “pass-out challenge,” the “blackout challenge” encourages users to hold their breath until they pass out due to a lack of oxygen, People reported.
“What is actually going on in the brain is a lack of oxygen similar to when someone is drowning, choking, or having a cardiac arrest,” Dr. Nick Flynn explained to the Irish Examiner. “If you have low oxygen to the brain for over three minutes you can get brain damage and if you have low oxygen to the brain for over five minutes it can result in death.”
What are signs that someone is trying the ‘Blackout Challenge’?
The CDC also released a list of signs that might indicate someone is trying the “blackout challenge,” including:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Marks on his or her neck
- Severe headaches
- Feeling disoriented after spending time alone
“Because most parents in the study had not heard of the choking game, we hope to raise awareness of the choking game among parents, health care providers, and educators, so they can recognize warning signs of the activity,” said Robin L. Toblin, Ph.D., M.P.H., according to the CDC. “This is especially important because children themselves may not appreciate the dangers of this activity.”
A TikTok spokesperson told People that “this disturbing ‘challenge,’ which people seem to learn about from sources other than TikTok, long predates our platform and has never been a TikTok trend.”
“We remain vigilant in our commitment to user safety and would immediately remove related content if found,” they added.
Now, TikTok is facing a new lawsuit.
In December, 10-year-old Nylah Anderson choked to death after accidentally hanging herself in her closet, per The Washington Post. When she was found, she was rushed to the hospital, where doctors tried to revive her, but they were too late. A forensic analysis of the young girl’s phone showed that she was using TikTok to watch blackout challenge videos just before she died.
Last month, her mother, Tawainna Anderson, sued the popular app for wrongful death in the U.S. District Court in Eastern Pennsylvania, per The Washington Post. Her suit claims that TikTok is “programming children for the sake of corporate profits and promoting addiction,” while being “a predatory and manipulative app” that pushes “exceedingly and unacceptably dangerous challenges.”
Other deaths have stemmed from the challenge.
Unfortunately, Nylah is not the only child to die while attempting this challenge. So far, four other children ages 14 and under have died from trying to mimic the videos—all of which are mentioned in the lawsuit, per The Washington Post.
In a warning to other parents, Anderson said, “Make sure you check your kids’ phones,” she told ABC Action News. “You never know what you might find on their phones. You wouldn’t think 10-year-olds would try this. They’re trying because they’re kids, and they don’t know better.”
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