The youths are at it again, this time with a new Tik Tok challenge called the “Skull Breaker Challenge”.
If the moniker itself doesn’t scare you, the results will. A 12-year-old in Alabama was hospitalized this week after participating in the challenge.
The videos of the challenge are hard to watch. It consists of three people, and the one in the middle jumps and the two on the sides sweep the middle person’s legs out from under them, causing them to hit the floor. Usually quite hard.
The major concern with this particular Tik Tok challenge is head injuries, which in serious cases can be fatal. A fall like this can also cause broken bones, concussions, and other similar injuries.
Tik Tok is the latest popular social media platform, especially for young people. It’s popularity and widespread use amongst kids makes it the perfect breeding ground for these types of dangerous challenges.
Make no mistake, dangerous social media “challenges” existed before Tik Tok and before the “Skull Breaker Challenge”.
There was the whole Tide Pods fiasco, which was probably the most memorable dangerous teen social media phenomenon. It was exactly what it sounds like. People, mostly teens, and pre-teens, were filming themselves eating laundry detergent. A plethora of doctors came out and predictably condemned the practice.
There was the Bird Box Challenge, in which participants attempted to do often dangerous tasks blindfolded, inspired by the Netflix movie Bird Box. This particular challenge led YouTube to ban pranks that put people in physical or emotional danger.
If these challenges seem dangerous, there are even more blatantly dangerous challenges out there for the youth of the world to find. One such challenge is the Blue Whale Challenge.
The Blue Whale Challenge is a rather complex, 50-day suicide game that swept Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for several years. It’s rooted in cyberbullying and the exploitation of mental illness in young people.
Each of these challenges eventually runs their course and dies down, but the theory and issues that fueled their existence in the first place remain.
A Dangerous Pattern of Social Media Use
These challenges, Tik Tok or otherwise, are part of a pattern of social media use, especially among young people that is larger than any one platform and any one particular challenge.
Social media is absolutely integral to the lives of any average person in the modern world. This constant public image to maintain on every platform is relatively new, especially when it comes to how to navigate that with children.
Kids and teenagers today face constant pressure to maintain a social media presence. This means a constant need for views, likes, and general acknowledgment.
Social media notifications even release dopamine in the brain. That recognition we all get from a great social media post quite literally causes a chemical reaction that makes us all want more.
Certain social media stars also experience meteoric rises, meaning mansions and money. We see YouTube stars and SoundCloud rappers getting famous every single day, and people see that, especially young people, and want to replicate that fame in any way possible.
This neverending quest for more views and likes is causing young people to put their health at risk for increasingly bolder stunts. It’s escalated until kids all over the world are putting themselves at risk for the sake of a little recognition.