A 12-year-old girl from Argentina died after trying the dangerous “choke challenge” on TikTok, per the New York Post.
The girl, Milagros Soto, was found in a closet hanging from a makeshift noose on January 13th. Soto’s family members think she was bullied and challenged to perform the horrible online fad while at school.
Soto isn’t the only casualty of the TikTok challenge, which involves asphyxiating oneself until passing out. It’s also only one of many “fatal fads” circulating the TikTok sphere. Also known as the “blackout challenge,” Tiktok users chase virality and clout by forcing themselves to pass out.
In light of the tragic death, people are begging parents to prohibit TikTok from their children. Several Twitter users spoke up.
Dr. Anthony Bradley, a religious studies professor at The King’s College, shared the Post’s article, commenting, “Parents, please delete this app from your lives and your kids’ lives. More and more colleges are banning it from their campus. It is truly rubbish.”
Others commented, “Ban TikTok already,” and “Please ban TikTok already, I pray for this young lady’s family, so sad.”
Here in the U.S., TikTok is facing lawsuits after two California girls also perished from the blackout challenge. The lawsuit reads,
TikTok has invested billions of dollars to intentionally design and develop its product to encourage, enable and push content to teens and children that defendant knows to be problematic and highly detrimental to its minor users’ mental health.”
Research on the damaging effects of social media apps like TikTok and Instagram on young people like Soto is immense, and the alarm is growing. Jonathan Haidt notes that the suicide rate among teen girls has skyrocketed over the last decade. The trend, he argues, is highly correlated to the rise of Instagram. A combination of social comparison, peer pressure, and adolescent fragility makes kids vulnerable to such apps, which are designed to addict and manipulate. TikTok isn’t helping.
TikTok is also owned by a Chinese company, which some have noted is a national security issue, and is another reason why some universities and even state governments are banning the app from their devices.