Parents, if your biggest concern about TikTok and other social media platforms is the politics in the country where they are headquartered, you’re missing a very different danger.
Various social media “challenges” have been around since the start. Some of them — dousing a prepared person with a bucket of cold water, for example — are relatively harmless. But some are deadly, and a disturbing number of young people appear not to know the difference. The latest tragedy is a result of the Benadryl Challenge.
Most reasonable people would see those words alone and understand it is to be avoided. But young people are particularly vulnerable to the poisonous mix of peer pressure and social media. One victim from Ohio is 13-year-old Jacob Stevens, who died after taking more than a dozen Benadryl pills, reportedly in an attempt to hallucinate while his friend recorded him. His body started seizing, he was hospitalized, spent six days on a ventilator and died.
“Keep an eye on what your kids are doing with that phone, talk to them about … the situation. I want everybody to know about my son’s situation,” Justin Stevens said to a WOIO-TV reporter at the time.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Benadryl Challenge is nothing new; TikTok stated “we strictly prohibit and remove content that promotes dangerous behavior with the safety of our community as a priority. We have never seen this type of content trend on our platform and have blocked searches for years to help discourage copycat behavior.”
But this and other challenges somehow make their way to our kids with relative ease and frequency. That is why it is essential to talk to our children not only about the challenges we know, but about using independent thinking and common sense. For this and too many other reasons we’ve got to give them the skills to avoid giving in to peer pressure.
We must do a better job of preparing kids for this world that still seems new and strange to many of us. They’ve never known anything different. If we don’t do our part to monitor and restrict social media and
online access, while preparing them for the dangers they may face, we are failing them — with deadly consequences.