Tik Tok attracts young users in particular. The consequences of the sometimes life-threatening hashtag challenges can hardly be assessed by the youngest users, as a case in Italy has now shown once again.
Tik Tok is probably the most popular social media app among very young users. The videos are no more than 15 seconds long, everything flashes and moves, and the so-called hashtag challenges make the app an exciting challenge for children.
What do hashtag challenges look like?
The Hashtag Challenge is a special feature of Tik Tok. Snapchat has a similar format with its Lens Challenges, but other social networks have not yet jumped on the dare bandwagon.
The app actively promotes the format, of course. Customers could generate a particularly high level of attention with a combination of hashtag challenge and high-reach influencers.
Hashtag challenges with fail potential
In April 2020, user Liam Weyer launched the #PeeYourPantsChallenge. Weyer actually wanted to parody the sometimes absurd challenges with his video. The hashtag now has almost 14 million views and countless imitators.
The absurd dimensions can also be seen in the “Salt Challenge,” the “Cinnamon Challenge” or the “Tide Pod Challenge,” among others. Basically, the idea here is to put something – or preferably a lot – of the corresponding substance into one’s mouth.
The videos resulting from this dare then show coughing or gagging teens who have put too much salt, cinnamon or detergent in their mouths. Yes, detergent.
This raises the question among many critics whether not only laundry detergent should be kept out of the reach of children – but also Tik Tok.
The case in Italy
But it gets even worse: It’s mainly girls who file off their incisors – which makes you ache just reading about it. You don’t even have to watch the videos.
The “Benadryl Challenge” also goes viral on Tik Tok – users film themselves taking an overdose of the anti-allergy drug and getting high from it. A 15-year-old Oklahoma girl paid for this dare with her life this summer.
A 10-year-old girl choked herself unconscious with a belt in Italy. Her five-year-old sister found her – smartphone included – in the bathroom. The girl had taken part in the “Blackout Challenge.” Doctors at the hospital could only determine that she was brain dead.
For risks or side effects, ask your Tik Toker
A debate has now erupted in Italy over the popular app. People are actually only allowed to sign up for Tik Tok from the age of 13 – the platform does not check what children actually enter in the app.
The Italian data protection authority has now called on Tik Tok to block all accounts where the age has not been clarified. The Italian daily La Repubblica explains that this request could also mean a complete blocking of the network. After all, the app could hardly perform an age check.
It is hardly surprising that the app attracts particularly very young users. Charli D’Amelio, currently the most successful Tik Toker, is just 16 years old.
At the end of November, she was the first to gather 100 million followers on the platform. And the youngest people now want to emulate their idols – for which, however, the Bravo star cut is no longer sufficient today.
It’s probably like all the hype circulating in schools around the world: Kids want to be cool, to have a say. The dangers often fade into the background in this dynamic. The irrepressible compulsion to belong causes the youngest kids to engage in reckless acts of courage, the consequences of which they are unable to assess.