The deadly TikTok crazes sweeping YOUR kid’s app – from ‘Skullbreaker’ stunt to jumping from a moving car – The Sun
A TEENAGE boy slides a coin into a live electrical socket – sending a ball of white-hot sparks shooting through the air – in scenes that would make any parent's heart race.
Yet perhaps more terrifying than the video itself is the fact that it's part of a TikTok 'game' sweeping the social media app, which encourages other youngsters to try the potentially deadly stunt themselves.
The so-called 'outlet challenge' is among a series of bizarre viral trends being watched, shared and re-enacted on TikTok.
Of course, plenty of these 'challenges' are harmless – even if a bit silly, such as a recent craze where men film themselves dipping their testicles in soy sauce to see if they can “taste” it.
Others, however, are extremely dangerous.
The challenges can even prove life-threatening for impressionable young children desperate for 'likes' and adoring comments – who don't always realise certain 'trends' aren't meant to be taken seriously.
The app has already been blamed for several deaths.
These trending videos, which usually spread via hashtags, then appear more frequently on TikTok’s algorithm-driven homepage as they gain views and momentum – until everyone on the app knows about them.
"Trends with potentially serious consequences can spring up at any moment," says digital privacy expert Ray Walsh, of ProPrivacy. "This is a real cause for concern."
Here, we reveal some of the most shocking TikTok trends that have been taking over the app…
TikTok Time Bomb
TikTok has spread like digital wildfire, snapping up over 1.5 billion users since its global launch three years ago — including millions in the UK.
On the surface, the world's fastest growing social media platform shows short clips of lip-syncing to songs or showing off dance moves but there’s a far more sinister side.
It’s become a magnet for paedophiles as well as a hotbed for violent and extremist content, with TikTok predators exploiting the platform's young user base and lax security to prey on the vulnerable.
We've seen kids as young as eight being groomed on TikTok, while other creeps take advantage of young girls posting sexualised content of themselves on the platform.
And that's especially worrying on a site which is attracting millions more children every year, with 53 per cent of kids now owning a smartphone by the age of seven.
That's why we launched our TikTok Time Bomb series — to make sure parents are aware of the risks their kids are being exposed to, and what they can do to better protect them.
Everyone agrees social media can be a force for good, but it has to be used the right way and with proper controls in place.
We want TikTok to better moderate its content so that it’s not being left to kids to protect themselves online.
The Kiki challenge
Trend: TikTok-ers film themselves jumping out of a slow-moving car and performing a choreographed dance as the vehicle rolls alongside them.
The so-called challenge gets its name from the lyric “Kiki, do you love me?” from the Drake song In My Feelings – which those attempting the trend dance to.
Danger: Getting out of a moving vehicle is always risky – no matter how slow you’re going. In one case, a user smashed her head on the road after attempting the craze, leaving her critically injured.
This dangerous craze spread all over TikTok in 2018, and became so prolific that police forces around the world had to issue warnings not to attempt it.
Thousands of clips show TikTok users successfully attempting the challenge – but in 2018, 18-year-old Anna Worden, from Iowa, US, severely injured herself trying to copy the craze.
Anna spent days in intensive care with a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain and blood clots in her ears after tripping over and smashing her head on the road.
The teenager had to re-learn how to walk after recovering from her injuries – and she now has an important message about the Kiki challenge and other risky TikTok crazes.
"It may seem fun, and it may seem easy, but at the same too, they could be so dangerous," she warns.
The 'skullbreaker' craze
Trend: Two friends knock a third off balance by kicking their feet away from under them while they jump in the air.
Danger: There is a serious risk of head or neck injury when you're knocked to the ground mid-jump, with no time to prepare your fall and a major risk you could land awkwardly on the ground.
And sadly, that's exactly what has happened to numerous kids around the world.
Warnings about the craze, dubbed Rompcráneos in Spanish which means ‘Skullbreaker’ in English, recently reached Europe after school kids in South America filmed themselves in action.
The footage taken at a school in Venezuela showed one boy crashing to the ground after the two either side of him kicked his feet away as he leapt off the ground.
Initial reports, which were not confirmed by the school involved, pointed to him ending up in intensive care.
In another video, a boy suffered a wrist injury after being up-ended in front of a crowd who had gathered round the playground.
Meanwhile, one mum in Arizona shared distressing photos of her son with a bloody face, lying in a hospital bed, after he was tricked into jumping for the challenge too.
The vacuum challenge
Trend: Kids film themselves sitting in bin bags then use vacuum cleaners to suck the air out of the bag, leaving it sealed around their body.
Danger: Sealing your body inside a bin bag comes with the risk of suffocation if your airways are blocked. There is also a risk of bodily harm – particularly for younger children.
The so-called vacuum challenge spread all over TikTok, Twitter and YouTube last year, with many British youngsters trying to seal themselves in a big bag.
Horrifying clips of the trend in action show young TikTok-ers trapped in skin-tight vacuumed bin bags with only their heads sticking out.
Some of these videos have over half a million likes and many more views – and plenty of clips show young children attempting the challenge.
The outlet challenge
Trend: Kids partially plug in phone chargers then drop pennies on to the exposed prongs to create sparks.
Danger: Messing around with plug sockets can cause electrocution and burns, and some fire departments have warned the trend could also burn down buildings.
This shocking trend has already put lives at risk, with schoolchildren leaping out of the way from sparks coming from wall sockets.
Just last month, firefighters had to race to a school in Massachusetts, US, after teenagers allegedly attempted the outlet challenge in their classroom.
Two boys have since been charged with attempting to burn a public building and malicious destruction of property in connection with the incident.
Firefighters found a “blackened and scorched” phone charger with a penny fused to the prongs.
“These actions are extremely dangerous and could potentially start a fire. It could also cause serious injury to anyone who is nearby,” warned the local fire chief.
The 'morning after pill' craze
Trend: Teenage girls are filming themselves eating tablets which they falsely claim to be morning after pills.
Danger: Health problems could be caused by eating the inedible tablets, or viewers could be misled into taking them instead of a morning after pill.
A series of disturbing videos have been circulating on TikTok showing girls breaking open Clearblue pregnancy tests to discover what look like morning after pills inside.
Some teens have even swallowed the tablets, with one clip, viewed more than 3,000 times, captioned: “There's actually [morning after] pills in Clearblue pregnancy tests.”
Yet in truth, the “pills” are not contraceptives. They are actually there to absorb moisture – like silica gel packets – and are not supposed to be eaten.
The trend has now spread so far that Clearblue has released a statement urging customers not to eat the tablets – and warning anyone who already has to see a doctor.
But with the TikTok videos racking up thousands of views, there's a danger that girls who haven't seen the statement could be misled into taking the tablets instead of a morning after pill.
The flash eye challenge
Trend: People have been trying to change their eye colour by staring into their phone’s flash.
Danger: Exposing your eyes to bright lights at such close range can cause temporary blindness and, in some cases, create permanent blind spots.
Referred to by some as the 'flash eye challenge' or the 'eye colour trend', this craze involves blasting your eyes from point-blank range with your phone’s flash.
It started after a user shared a video in which her brown eyes appeared to turn blue after adding a certain filter and staring into the bright light.
The video has been shared hundreds of times and has hundreds of comments – all from people complaining that the trick doesn’t work and that they now can’t see properly.
Opticians have warned that staring into a bright light like this can cause temporary flash blindness or, in extreme cases, create small blind spots which permanently impair your vision.
Take control of TikTok – change these settings now
Parents should do the following immediately…
- Head into Settings > Privacy and Safety and look for the Discoverability heading at the top.
- Under that you'll see a setting called Private Account. Toggle this on.
- TikTok recommends your page to lots of other users to improve video circulation.
- Switch the setting off and the account will no longer be recommended to other users.
Shut out weirdos:
- In Privacy and Safety > Safety, you can prevent other users from interacting with you.
- Most of the settings are on Everyone by default, but can be changed to Friends or Off.
- You can prevent interactions on comments, Duets, Reacts, users seeing which videos you've liked, and also messages.
Restricted Mode ON:
- Restricted Mode tries to limit age-inappropriate content from appearing for children.
- It's not perfect, and works through using computer-scanning systems – so some dodgy content will inevitably be missed.
- It's also possible to set a passcode to prevent your child from changing this setting later on.
- You'll find this in Settings > Digital Wellbeing > Screen Time Management.
Family Safety Mode:
- This setting lets you assign accounts as 'Parent' or 'Teen', giving you remote control over a child's TikTok access.
- You can set watch time limits, exclude inappropriate content and limit who can send messages.
- It's possible to do this from your own smartphone, so you can make sure your child is as protected as possible from anywhere.
- This setting is in Settings > Digital Wellbeing > Family Safe Mode.
The Cupid’s bow trend
Trend: Teenage girls are gluing their upper lip to their Cupid’s bow to make their pout look fuller.
Danger: The glue could cause dermatitis, a painful skin condition.
More than 350,000 people have 'liked' or commented on clips of girls pasting their upper lip to their Cupid’s bow to give themselves the appearance of having had lip fillers.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the trend has been slammed for being potentially dangerous.
After all, gluing bits of your face together is never a good idea.
Dermatologists have warned that putting glue on the sensitive skin of your face could cause skin conditions – and besides this, it could be painful and uncomfortable to unstick glued lips.
However, that hasn’t stopped copycat users from imitating the trend and trying it out for themselves, often posting the videos on Twitter where they receive tens of thousands of 'likes'.
The ‘throw in the air' challenge
Trend: Users gather in a circle and throw something over their heads, then try to wait as long as possible before dodging the object as it lands.
Danger: Some videos show teenagers throwing heavy objects like wheelchairs into the air and barely dodging them, risking concussion if they are hit.
This potentially painful craze is most popular with men, who throw a series of random objects over their heads, risking it landing straight on top of them.
Often this is just harmless fun, but some videos show users taking the trend to the extreme: dodging bikes, ladders, and even wheelchairs as they rain down from above.
Clips of the challenge have been shared all over TikTok as well as on Twitter, with hundreds of participants and millions of viewers.
Although there are no reported casualties, the clips show a number of potentially dangerous near misses.
A spokesperson from TikTok, which last week announced a new feature to allow parents to control what their kids view, said: "Promoting a positive and safe app environment for our users is a top priority for TikTok.
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