Could TikTok be Affecting the Mental Health of America’s Youth?

Stacey Doud

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The popular app TikTok, which allows users to post short videos, has been under scrutiny for the past few years. There have been several injuries and deaths linked to TikTok “challenges,” which are viral videos daring users to do something absurd, and unfortunately, some of these tasks are very dangerous.

Read about the “Door Kick Challenge” published on NewsBreak in April.

Some of the other notably dangerous challenges include:

  • Vampire Challenge: In 2020, users were urged to use Super Glue or nail glue to attach plastic vampire teeth to their natural teeth. Dental visits climbed as the people who did this found that they could not remove the fangs, and several people lost teeth participating in the challenge. These glues are also poisonous, so many users also got sick.
  • Corn Cob Challenge: The same year, users were dared to eat a cob of corn affixed to a spinning drill bit. Even celebrity Jason Derulo participated and ended up chipping at least one tooth while participating in the challenge. Click HERE for the video.
  • Cereal Challenge: In January of 2020, this challenge was spread, daring people to pour milk and cereal into the open mouth of another person who is lying down and then eat said breakfast food from the mouth of the other. The potential for disease spread and choking hazards abound.
  • Skull Breaker Challenge: In February of 2020, a video surfaced on TikTok, which depicted three people jumping next to each other as the two on the ends kick the middle person’s feet out from under him. This caused the middleman to fall to the ground, landing on his back and hitting his head. This challenge led to injuries in Miami, Arizona, and New Jersey. In fact, Daytona Beach police charged two high schoolers with misdemeanor battery after they performed the challenge.
  • Penny Challenge: In January of 2020, this challenge surfaced on TikTok, daring users to slide a penny behind an improperly plugged-in phone charger. The penny can make contact with the metal prongs of the charger, causing electrical system damage, sparks, and fire. Videos of this challenge may be viewed HERE.
  • Benadryl Challenge: In September of 2020, a challenge was posted daring users to take extremely high doses of the antihistamine Benadryl, which can cause hallucinations when ingested at these dosages. Unfortunately, this challenge caused the death of a 15-year-old girl residing in Oklahoma, and caused Johnson & Johnson, who manufactures Benadryl, to make a public service announcement (PSA) and add warnings to their packaging. At least three other teenagers were hospitalized due to the massive dose of the antihistamine.

There are many more hare-brained challenges out there, but there are people who are trying to put a stop to these dares.

In early 2022, a group of attorney generals from eight states across the nation started investigating TikTok to determine if it is in violation of any state consumer protection laws. TikTok’s algorithms can accidentally encourage self-harm and eating disorders, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). TikTok has also been found to have poor parental control by the National Association of Attorneys General.

Apps like TikTok are alluring to young people that are still creating their identities. They like to find ways to get their “15 minutes of fame,” no matter what the cost. The solution boils down to heavier parental control and education for young users.

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I live and work in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and enjoy discovering new trends, businesses, events and organizations to write about! As a writer/reporter/photographer and editor, I especially like to report on positive things, but I'll always bring you a balanced view (unless it's an opinion piece). I report locally in Grapevine, TX. Thank you for viewing my profile and I'd be honored if you'd follow me!

Grapevine, TX
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