A 10-year-old girl in Italy was declared brain-dead on Thursday, January 21, after she attempted the “Blackout Challenge” on TikTok. The challenge also known as the “Pass Out Challenge” or “The Fainting Game” has been circulating on social media since last year and dares its participants to choke themselves until they faint after a couple seconds.
After seeing the challenge on TikTok, the 10 year old girl decided to partake in it, costing her her life after she completed the challenge using a belt. She tied a belt around her neck and within a few seconds she accidentally asphyxiated herself. She was rushed to the hospital where she went into cardiac arrest and then pronounced brain dead.
Following the incident, Italy has now temporarily blocked TikTok access until February 15 to those who can’t verify their age according to The Italian Data Protection Authority’s statement released on Friday, January 22.
According to TikTok’s terms and conditions, all users must be at least 13 years of age. However, it is easy to falsificate one’s age on the internet. TikTok is now working on meeting demands to ensure user safety due to the recent incident. “The safety of the TikTok community is our absolute priority, for this motive we do not allow any content that encourages, promotes or glorifies behaviour that could be dangerous,” said a TikTok representative.
“We didn’t know anything, we didn’t know she was participating in this game. We knew that our daughter went on TikTok for dances, to look at videos. How could I imagine this atrocity?” the girl’s father quoted in The Local It, an Italian newsource.
Many people who interact with social media can see how trends can easily take over the app and sometimes children become victims to these trends. Soraya Chambers, 17, nearly experienced this when her younger sister was exposed to social media at a very young age. Her sister was only 11 when she signed up for Instagram and TikTok by falsifying her age. “She started posting selfies and dancing videos on the internet and she was only eleven. Only eleven, and men were leaving comments on her videos.”
From online harassment to dangerous challenges like the “Blackout Challenge,” social media harbors an unsafe environment for underage children. There should be more precaution on what is being posted, and more importantly who is viewing the content.
Chambers emphasized that “social media has proven to be dangerous time and time again. This generation has become so dependent on social media they don’t see what’s wrong with it.”