Trigger warning: mentions self-harm.
In this article:
- With over 1 billion active users, TikTok is the most engaging social media platform in the world right now.
- That’s all thanks to its many content creators churning out video after video, inspiring other users to respond or recreate.
- The trend of recreating videos on TikTok gave rise to the TikTok challenges.
- Ranging from fun dances to kissing your pet, most of these challenges are harmless ways to pass the time.
- But others can be riskier than they look. These are the most dangerous TikTok challenges (that you absolutely should not try at home).
Ask any Gen Zer — or their parents — what they think the most popular app is and, chances are, they’ll answer TikTok.
The digitally savvy generation isn’t wrong. TikTok generated 656 million downloads worldwide in 2021, making it the most popular app of last year. The social media platform also boasts an active user base of over one billion accounts and is considered the most engaging social media platform right now.
Users spend an average of 10.85 minutes scrolling through their feeds, more than enough time to view dozens of TikTok challenges that trend on the app.
Much of the platform’s popularity is owed to content creators who churn out videos that users ultimately want to recreate. Users can find helpful parenting advice, up-and-coming artists, tips on starting a union, and more from the millions of content creators on the app.
Then, there are the TikTok challenges.
That said, not all TikTok challenges are funny, wholesome, or harmless. In fact, there is a fair amount of risky challenges that trend on the app.
There is an inherent dark side to a social media platform that validates users through likes, comments, and shares. Many content creators will stop at nothing to get attention, even if that means putting themselves or others in harm’s way to capture a cool-looking or daring video.
Even if the comments it generates are negative, those still count as engagement that helps push their video to the trending page.
What’s worse is that these dangerous TikTok challenges mostly appeal to younger demographics, many of whom are still figuring out ways to fit in their social groups. According to media psychologist Dr. Pamela Rutledge, recreating a TikTok challenge can make you feel connected to thousands if not millions of users across the globe.
This kind of social validation is something that humans naturally crave, especially younger users.
In fact, the need to belong is strong enough for teens to ignore the risk an activity entails. Researchers once thought that the adolescent brain had not matured fully, which is why they engage in risky behavior like sex, drugs, and drinking — or, more recently, swallowing Tide Pods.
However, research shows that young people understand risk just fine. They just choose to ignore it so as not to feel left out. It’s human nature to want to feel part of the group. If it gets them the seal of approval from their peers in the form of social media engagement, adolescents will recreate daredevil acts they see in popular but dangerous TikTok challenges.
The Most Dangerous TikTok Challenges To Hit the Trending Page
Milk Crate Challenge
Planking in random places now seems benign compared to the dangerous TikTok challenges of today, one of which is the Milk Crate Challenge.
To participate, users stack empty milk crates into the shape of a staircase and climb up. It seems pretty simple and, admittedly, tame but users tried different ways to raise the stakes, like creating extremely high stacks or navigating the holes with high heels on.
It should go without saying but doctors had to say it anyway: Plastic milk crates aren’t designed to carry a person’s weight. Orthopedic surgeons even had to issue warnings against this seriously risky trend.
“It’s very difficult to brace yourself from the falls I’ve seen in these videos. They’re putting their joints at an even higher risk for injury,” said Dr. Shawn Anthony of Mount Sinai Hospital.
Dr. George Gantsoudes chimed in with a tweet that injuries from the Milk Crate Challenge are considered elective surgeries, which, during the peaks of COVID-19 hospitalizations, are not considered emergency care procedures.
What to try instead: Center of Gravity Challenge
Dry Scooping Challenge
Fitness and sports are among the most popular content categories on TikTok. The app itself is proud to have “nutrition enthusiasts, workout buffs, and health conscious users” in its growing community.
However, not all of the fitness influencers on the app are certified to provide advice or issue challenges among their followers.
One of the trends they started is dry scooping in which gym rats swallow workout supplements dry and see how that benefits their muscle building and performance goals. Other users claimed that dry swallowing pre-workout and protein powders helps the body absorb the nutrients faster.
Not only is dry scooping made up and not based on any research, the practice can also cause serious health problems such as heart palpitations and elevated blood pressure. In fact, a fitness influencer shared that she experienced an NSTEMI heart attack while working out after dry scooping.
Workout supplements are typically powered by ingredients like caffeine, creatine, and Beta-alanine. Consuming these in powder form is like shocking your body with several shots of espresso. So it’s not surprising that it would react in intense ways.
When consuming workout supplements, it’s best to follow the proven methods provided on the container instead of coming up with unfounded ways to boost your lifting or running session.
In other words, dilute your protein powders first! Besides, who would want to down protein powders without water? They’re usually chalky in texture and taste!
What to try instead: Rock the Boat Challenge
Cha-Cha Slide Challenge
Although it sounds like a groovy dance, the Cha-Cha Slide Challenge is anything but. It was dubbed the most dangerous TikTok challenge and we’d have to agree.
Instead of sliding on the dance floor, this trend encourages users to slide on the road while driving to the tune of the Cha-Cha Slide by D.J. Casper. If you’re not familiar with the song, the lyrics are:
To the right now
To the left
Take it back now y’all
One hop this time, one hop this time
Right foot two stomps
Left foot two stomps
Slide to the left
Slide to the right
Yes, this TikTok challenge involves driving a car, swerving on the road to the cue of the song, and putting other people in harm’s way, not just oneself. At best, you come out of it unscathed but traumatize your passengers and other motorists in the process.
At worst, this TikTok challenge destroys properties and lives.
What to do instead: Cha-Cha Slide Dance Challenge
Angel of Death Challenge
Another of the most dangerous TikTok challenges that endanger innocent drivers and pedestrians is the Angel of Death Challenge. The name says all you need to know and that’s to stay away from this one.
The trend involves jumping in front of moving vehicles, often large trucks and buses. If the driver is alert enough to step on the brakes in time, then you have successfully completed the TikTok challenge.
It originated in Indonesia, where two lives have already been lost to this traumatizing and deadly TikTok online trend.
What to do instead: Run in the Opposite Direction Challenge
Finally, the most horrible challenge to emerge from trending TikTok challenges involves self-harm. It’s called the Blackout Challenge and it dares users to strangle themselves manually or with tools until they pass out.
Challenging others to choke themselves to the point of blacking out is perhaps one of the most sinister trends on social media. This TikTok challenge isn’t the first of its kind, either. A similar choking game made rounds online back in 2008.
Some concerned parties have actually filed lawsuits against TikTok, claiming that the app pushed dangerous content like the Blackout Challenge to underage users.
Unfortunately, this includes parents whose kids have died while participating in the trend. Some of the children were as young as 8–9 years old. By child developmental standards, they were not mature enough to evaluate risk as accurately as their adolescent and adult counterparts.
While parents are responsible for monitoring their children’s social media consumption, TikTok should also be held accountable for its algorithm.
Due to the app’s popularity and reach today, issuing warnings is not enough. It has a bigger responsibility to ensure that similar TikTok challenges get flagged before they get traction and reach the eyes of young, impressionable viewers.
What to do instead: Bottle Slide Challenge