How many “Children of the 80s” remember the prank called, “Ding, Dong, Ditch?” It consisted of going from residence to residence after dark, either ringing the doorbell, knocking on the door, or both, then running away as fast as possible. Classmates’, teachers’, and friends’ houses tended to be the most fun, as the pranksters were usually not far away, observing who came to the door and the reaction that the caper elicited.
That was decades ago, when people usually didn’t answer the door with a weapon close at hand, and pranksters generally didn’t “hit” the same house twice because of the fear of getting busted.
Back then, most kids (of course, there are exceptions) didn’t really want to ever see the inside of a cop car or a jail cell, and they certainly weren’t angling for violence. They wanted something to do that made them giggle, yet was generally harmless.
The latest trend on TikTok, a social media platform on which users record short videos, is a challenge that involves young people kicking or banging on doors of houses, apartments, dorm rooms, and motels, set to the Ke$ha song called “Die Young,” in which there is a section that has two loud drumbeats. That’s where the kicking comes in.
It’s been reported that a few doors have been kicked in, but video evidence shows that it was most likely accidental. However, what if the resident comes to the door with a weapon, ready to use it? This “harmless” prank could end in tragedy.
This is not the first TikTok challenge to draw attention.
Earlier this year, “The Blackout Challenge” reemerged from its slumber. It was popular about 15 years ago via text sharing. Users are encouraged to hold their breath until they pass out.
Last year, a trend called “The Milk Crate Challenge” became widespread. This involved stacking milk crates in a stair-step pattern and then climbing them. Of course, many of the stacks collapsed, injuring participants.
Also last year, “The Frozen Honey Challenge” was trending. Users filled water bottles up with honey and/or corn syrup and put them in the freezer. The result was a very thick substance with a jelly-like consistency. Many users enjoyed this challenge because the frozen honey tasted good; however, some side effects were experienced, including vomiting and severe diarrhea.
While good, clean fun is enjoyable, teens are not developmentally able to see the risks involved in some of these “dares.” According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, teenagers are impulsive and don’t think about the consequences of their actions. So, in a way, it’s not their fault; it’s their biology.
If it’s just the way teens are, how can tragedies and accidents resulting from challenges like the ones on TikTok, be prevented?
The answer lies with parents/caregivers, peers, teachers, clergy and any other trusted person in the teen’s life. Some parents forbid their children to have TikTok on their phones, but that is easily worked around, as they can use a friend’s phone. And forbidding something usually makes a teenager want that thing more.
Some effective ways to curb enthusiasm for reckless behavior include:
· Have honest conversations about the real dangers of these challenges
· Show the teen videos of some mishaps from TikTok challenges (YouTube is a great source for this)
· Keep them busy and engaged in healthy activities
· Encourage friendships with peers who do not participate in challenges
· Monitor their use of social media platforms
In other words, be there and take a vested interest in what’s going on. It’s easy to let phones, computers, tablets, and televisions keep teens entertained, but many injuries from things like these challenges are preventable.