It’s the social network that’s taken the world by storm, but not everything on TikTok is cute dance videos or funny skits.
A British woman wants people to know there’s a darker side to the social media platform after her nine-year-old son was left fighting for his life when he copied a dangerous challenge doing the rounds on TikTok.
The trend is for people to put magnets on either side of the tongue to give the appearance of a piercing and it very nearly led to Jack Mason’s death.
READ MORE | What is TikTok and how did it take over the world?
The youngster from Stirling, Scotland, is lucky to be alive after his appendix and parts of his small and large intestine were removed.
He was taken to the hospital experiencing severe abdominal pain and vomiting and later admitted accidentally swallowing multiple tiny magnets.
The balls joined up inside his body to form a blockage, the BBC reports.
Jack is not on TikTok but he saw a video from the platform which made him want to try the challenge. "It was explained to me that the damage these magnets can cause could be so extreme that he might not pull through,” his mother Carolann McGeoch told the BBC.
“Through floods of tears I then had to sign my permission to the operation, acknowledging that anything could happen."
Carolann chose to share Jack’s story to warn both parents and children about the viral trend.
"If his experience can prevent other kids from enduring the same, then I will do everything I can to do that.”
Of course, this isn’t the first TikTok trend that’s had serious consequences. Many arrests, serious injuries and even deaths have been reported after users attempted dangerous stunts to get more views and likes.
This challenge involves blocking your airway with either a shoelace or your hand until you’re unconscious. The asphyxiation challenge has been on the internet for several years and has different names.
In March 12-year-old American Joshua Haileyesus from spent 19 days on life support after trying it out. He later died.
Life hasn’t been the same for Joshua’s father who says his son saw the challenge on TikTok.
“I would never imagine my son would do such a thing,” Haileyesus Zeryihun said. “I’m paying the price right now. I’d hate for other parents to go through this.
"Right now, it's very quiet. I don't hear any loud noise at home anymore, you know. That is the one thing that really gets me, too.”
Sanitiser fire challenge
Thanks to the pandemic hand sanitiser has become a must-have, which has led to an online challenge which sees people setting it alight.
In June, 12-year-old Revan Naiker from Durban set fire to a bowl filled with sanitiser. It exploded and caused him to sustain severe burns. The Grade 7 Effingham Heights Primary School pupil later died in hospital.
It was thought that he attempted the experiment after seeing it on TikTok. His family have rejected this but it still serves as a warning to children not to attempt this experiment at home.
The Benadryl Challenge
Benadryl is a medication for allergies and colds. However, teenagers on TikTok are consuming large amounts of it in order to hallucinate.
Chloe Marie Phillips, a 15-year-old from the US, died last year after overdosing on the product.
Her great-aunt, Janette Sissy Leasure, wrote on Facebook: “This needs to stop taking our kids or putting them in the hospital. Don't let it take any more kids . . . I don't want to see any families go through what we are going through right now.”
Last May three other teens were rushed to hospital after taking the medication.
According to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra), Benadryl isn’t sold in South Africa.
However, there are several products in South Africa that contain the ingredient diphenhydramine, which can also be misused. Sahpra warns that overuse can lead to heart problems, seizures, coma and death.
Devious licks challenge
September trend devious licks, a slang term for theft, has gone viral on TikTok and led to arrests. Learners are encouraged to take videos of themselves either stealing or vandalising school property, especially in bathrooms, and post them online.
TikTok has tried to stop the practice and banned all hashtags including #deviouslicks. However, children are still finding ways of uploading videos under different hashtags, such as #dispicablelicks.
There are videos of teens stealing bins, bathroom sinks, soap dispensers and a projector.
SOURCES: SAHPRA.ORG.ZA, TIMESLIVE.CO.ZA, BBC.COM, INSIDEEDITION.COM, IOL.CO.ZA, PARENTOLOGY.COM, CBSNEWS.COM, GUARDIAN.CO.UK