What Is the “Blackout Challenge” on TikTok, and Why Is It Unsafe: How many kids have died?
After two families sued TikTok over the deaths of their children, the “blackout challenge” became popular again on social media.
In the dangerous challenge, people are told to choke themselves until they pass out. It has become popular on a number of social media platforms in recent years and has been linked to a number of deaths and serious injuries among children.
In 2021, both Arriani Jaileen Arroyo, who was 9 and from Milwaukee, and Lalani Erika Walton, who was 8 and from Temple, Texas, died.
The wrongful death lawsuit filed by their families and the Social Media Victims Law Center says that the two girls “died of self-suffocation after being shown and encouraged to take the ‘TikTok Blackout Challenge’ on social media product.”
The person who started the Social Media Victims Law Center, Matthew Bergman, told ABC News that the lawsuit was meant to “save kids.” He added: “Let’s be clear: these challenges are sent to kids by TikTok’s algorithms. This didn’t just happen by chance or by accident.”
In Superior Court, County of Los Angeles, California, on July 5, the lawsuit was filed. Newsweek has asked both TikTok and the Social Media Victims Law Center for their thoughts.
What Is The Blackout Challenge?
The blackout challenge, also called the “pass-out challenge” or the “choking challenge,” encourages people to cut off their own oxygen supply by using belts, rope, or other similar items.
It was a problem before social media apps. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned about it in 2008, but in 2020 and 2021, it became popular again on TikTok.
In 2008, the CDC said that between 1995 and 2007, 82 kids who tried the challenge in the U.S. had died.
Parents and other people worried that someone they know might be doing the challenge were given a list of symptoms and side effects to watch out for. These things are:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Neck marks
- Strong headaches
- Acting disoriented after being alone
Why The Blackout Challenge Is Dangerous
Doctors from all over the world have said that this challenge could cause serious harm. In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Dr. Nick Flynn, a general practitioner in Cork, Ireland, talked about the risks. He said, “What’s really happening in the brain is a lack of oxygen, like when someone is drowning, choking, or having a heart attack.”
“If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen for more than three minutes, you could get brain damage. If you don’t get enough oxygen for more than five minutes, you could die.”
Flynn also talked about how people could hurt themselves by falling over when they lose consciousness.
He told parents to watch out for their kids and talk to them about these things.
What’s Been Said About The Blackout Challenge On TikTok?
In May, another grieving family sued TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance. The company told The Washington Post that this “disturbing “challenge,” which people seem to hear about from sources other than TikTok, has been going on for a long time and has never been a TikTok trend.
It also said that users couldn’t use hashtags to look for the challenge and that TikTok would “remain vigilant in our commitment to user safety and remove any related content as soon as we find it.”