TikTok has become a popular social media juggernaut, particularly with young people and teens. At the same time, troubling reports have emerged recently about the dangerous things kids are doing to get noticed on the platform. Here are some of the most dangerous TikTok trends to watch out for to keep your kids and teens safe — updated for Fall 2021.
Milk Crate Challenge
The trend involves stacking several milk crates into a stair formation and attempting to climb to the top. While the challenge sounds simple enough, the stacked milk crates form a less-than-stable foundation for climbing. The result? Countless videos of hapless climbers tumbling from milk crate towers.
Medical professionals have spoken out against the challenge, citing an obvious risk of grave injury.
“The Milk Crate Challenge is very dangerous, and we are seeing many orthopedic injuries as a result of the falls,” orthopedic surgeon Dr. Shawn Anthony told Today. “Injuries can include broken wrists, shoulder dislocations, ACL and meniscus tears, as well as life-threatening conditions like spinal cord injuries.”
Baby Swing Challenge
This ridiculous TikTok trend has users squeezing themselves into baby-sized playground swings. While the stunt might make for a funny clip, the problem comes when they can’t get out.
In the UK, emergency calls have doubled over the last year — and first responders say this trend is partially to blame.
“This craze is definitely to blame for the increase [in emergency calls],” one UK firefirghter told The Sun. “We have better things to be doing than cutting teenagers out of swings who think it’s a laugh. While we are dealing with them, a house fire could be killing people.”
Dry Scoop Challenge
One of many supposed fitness trends on TikTok, the dry scoop challenge involves taking a scoop of pre-workout powder before exercising. The twist is that, while these powders are meant to be dissolved in water, TikTokers gulping down spoonfuls of the stuff completely dry.
Predictably, many who try the challenge end up nearly choking on the powder, coughing up clouds of protein dust. However, others have experienced much more serious reactions, including TikToker Briatney Portillo.
The 22-year-old exotic dancer tried the challenge to energize her workout — but ended up in the hospital for a heart attack. You can read more about her story and the dangers of this trend here.
Scalp Popping Challenge
Worryingly, many of these dangerous TikTok challenges involve young people doing things to their bodies that may seem harmless, but carry the risk of severe injury. One of these is the scalp popping challenge, where users yank sharply on a lock of their own hair, creating a noticeable “pop” sound.
While some users have performed the challenge with no ill effects, medical experts still warn that the stunt could lead to injury.
“What you’re trying to do is pull tissue layers apart in your scalp,” said pediatrician Dr. Andrew Doyle. “If you pull too hard or the wrong way you risk tearing the tissue, tearing the skin and pulling out a lot of hair.”
Back Cracking Challenge
Next in line is the back cracking challenge, another trend that has TikTokers endangering their bodies. While we can all recognize the therapeutic value of a good back crack, this two-person challenge has some medical professionals seriously concerned.
“That video was hard to watch,” one doctor told Buzzfeed after watching a clip of the challenge. “This ‘adjustment’ can be very detrimental to the spine because it’s not being performed correctly. Doing exercises like this at home can be very dangerous as it can twist or pull someone’s spine out of place.”
Full Face Wax
This bizarre skincare routine came from the mind of Dutch barber Renaz Ismael, who shared videos to his TikTok of customers’ faces being completely covered in wax.
While it’s not hard to tell what makes this an incredibly dangerous idea, experts have still weighed in to discourage users from waxing up their faces.
“Our first concern is that it would cause suffocation,” one beautician told the BBC. “There’s no control element to smothering the face with wax. And wax hardens. So it could harden in the airways and have to be surgically removed.”
Variations of this trend, which is also known as the “choking game,” have been around since long before TikTok. (Time reported that 82 children died playing the game between 1995 and 2007 in the US alone.) It involves cutting off one’s air supply until the point of unconsciousness.
While it’s not clear what the point is, it can produce deadly results. A 10-year-old girl recently died while participating in the TikTok “blackout game” (pictured above), along with a 12-year-old and a 13-year-old boy. The shocking loss prompted data protection watchdogs to call for a ban on the platform for users with unconfirmed ages. TikTok is reportedly working with authorities on the matter.
Sexy “Silhouette Challenge”
The “Silhouette Challenge/Trend” uses a Snapchat filter called “vin rouge” to add a colored tint to users’ videos. From there, all it takes is a little creativity with lighting and flare for striking a sexy pose. It’s been around since at least the summer of 2020, when the online anime community popularized it. However, the trend has blown up in recent weeks, partially thanks to a clip uploaded by Chloe Bailey of the pop group Chloe x Halle.
The danger? Those filters can be removed by clever users, exposing whatever you’re wearing — or not wearing.
“Just make sure you’re being cognizant of what you’re wearing,” warned TikTok user and photographer @lostvsnryshots. “Anyone can easily take those images and revert them back to the original. So if you’re wearing a bra and panties, or you’re nude, or whatever you did before you applied the editing to get that shadow look, just know that it’s really easy to put it back to the original.”
Gorilla Glue Trend
This is less of a challenge or something that people are flocking to try, and more of a cautionary tale.
Tessica Brown ran out of her Got2b Glued hair spray and decided to improvise using the super-strong adhesive Gorilla Glue. She ended up needing medical professionals to help her remove it safely, and the whole incident was chronicaled on TikTok.
Enter Len Martin, who told Fox 8 news, “I thought she was just playing around, I didn’t think it was that serious, that Gorilla Glue would really do all that, you know?” He ended up using Gorilla Glue to stick a plastic solo cup to his lip and up in the emergency room to have it removed.
The lesson? There’s a price to finding viral fame. Oh, and don’t use Gorilla Glue for anything other than its intended purpose.
See how kids are overdosing on these TikTok trends…
Overdosing on Benadryl
After taking excessive amounts of Benadryl, three teens were rushed to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. The teens got the idea of taking Benadryl after watching a TikTok video, which said they could get high and hallucinate if they took at least a dozen Benadryl pills.
Guess what? Yes, taking too much Benadryl may cause hallucinations but it can also cause seizures, high heart rate, and can trigger arrhythmias.
Want to know what’s worse? It’s not the only challenge about getting high on this list.
Like the Benedryl challenge, this one is supposed to get you high.
To be clear, teens looking for a way to alter their consciousness is nothing new, but this bizarre method of getting high has been rapidly gaining popularity online. The idea is that consuming large amounts of nutmeg, usually mixed into some water, a chemical called myristicin affects the nervous system, possibly resulting in hallucinations, dizziness and nausea. Research has also found drowsiness, dry mouth, confusion and seizures to be possible effects of this dangerous challenge.
Outlet Challenge Outlet Challenge
The “Outlet Challenge” is a dangerous TikTok trend has already gained plenty of negative press attention for its destructive consequences. A phone charger is partially plugged into a power outlet, leaving the prongs partially exposed. Kids then drop quarters onto the prongs, creating showers of sparks.
Numerous incidents have been reported of the outlet challenge going wrong, including a situation in January where Massachusetts firefighters were called to a school. Two teens are currently facing charges in connection with the incident. Read more about it here.
This plainly unhygienic viral trend involves one person acting as a “bowl” by lying on their back and filling their mouth with cereal and milk. Next, a second person uses the spoon to eat cereal right out of their buddy’s mouth.
While no official health warnings have bubbled up over the messy TikTok trend, many internet users are disgusted. “In the last decade i was up for the innuendo bingo and ice bucket challenges,” one Twitter use wrote, per The Sun, “but eating cereal outta someone else’s mouth… nah I’m out.” Meanwhile, another Twitter user commented, “Someone’s gonna choke to death with that #cerealchallenge.”
Inspired by the Drake song “In My Feelings,” which contains the lyric, “Kiki, do you love me?,” this trend sees TikTok users exiting slow-moving vehicles while in motion and dancing to the tune alongside them.
Since the trend surfaced in 2018, numerous TikTok users have been injured, including Ann Worden of Iowa. In 2018, Worden fell while attempting the challenge, sustaining a fractured skull, brain bleeding and blood clots. “It may seem fun, and it may seem easy, but at the same time, they could be so dangerous,” Worden later said of TikTok challenges, per The Sun.
Salt and Ice Challenge
One of many pre-existing “challenges” to make its way to the TikTok platform, the salt and ice challenge has been kicking around the internet since around 2012. It involves putting salt on one’s skin and holding an ice cube on the spot for as long as possible. The combination creates a chemical reaction that causes pain and can lead to frostbite, first- or second-degree burns, and blisters, according to The Daily Dot.
We’ve covered the tripping challenge on Parentology before, as the popularity of the dangerous TikTok trend increases. It simply consists of one person jumping in the air and two others kicking their legs out from under them, causing them to fall backward.
The challenge carries obvious risks of head and neck injury in particular. Numerous reports of injuries have surfaced in recent weeks, including a boy in Alabama who suffered wrist fractures requiring surgery, and another from Arizona, pictured above, suffering head injuries and cuts requiring stitches in just the last month, according to The Sun.
This bizarre TikTok trend has been online for a few years now. The vacuum challenge involves getting inside a large trash bag and using a vacuum cleaner to suck out all the air. The result is the bag being sucked skin-tight onto the person inside.
While this challenge might seem harmless as long as the airway is clear, at least one teen who tried it out was stuck in a trash for 2 hours before her parents found and freed her, according to Latestly. Read more about it here.
That’s Kylie as in Kylie Jenner, one of the most popular style icons of the moment. The idea behind this TikTok trend is to attain lush, full lips like Jenner’s. The method? Holding a shot glass or medicine bottle to your lips and sucking out the air, creating a vacuum.
While the point of this challenge is to add volume to the lips, actual results have been disastrous for many who have tried.
“The new trend in trying to DIY lip plumping is quite concerning,” dermatological surgeon Dr. Dendy Engelman told Seventeen. “Not only can significant pain, swelling, and bruising result from these suction techniques, but there is potential risk for scarring and permanent disfigurement with repeated attempts.”
Pass Out Challenge
This simple but dangerous challenge is disturbingly easy for young people to do. Pass out challenge videos show TikTok users swinging their heads from side to side 18 times, apparently causing them to pass out. The internet is full of videos that seem to show the trick working, with users collapsing moments after completing the head shakes. Of course, any situation that involves rapidly whipping your head around and results in falling unconscious carries the risk of brain and head injuries.
Morning After Pill
You might call this one more of a mean-spirited disinformation campaign than a challenge or trend, but it’s still dangerous. These videos show girls “discovering” a free morning-after pill included in Clearblue pregnancy test packages.
The truth, however, is that the small circular tablet is not a morning-after pill. It’s actually meant to absorb moisture in the package, similar to a silica gel packet. Clearblue has since warned customers that the tablets are not edible and that those who have ingested them should seek medical attention.
While the internet is full of videos of teens foolishly snorting powdery substances like wasabi and Pixie Stix, the TikTok variety of this trend is especially dangerous. The TikTok snorting trend challenges users to snort an entire latex condom into their nose before pulling it out of their mouth.
Unsurprisingly, this action carries a host of potential risks, including infection or damage to the lining of the nasal passage, according to CBS News.
Flash Eye Challenge
One TikTok user’s viral video spawned a trend that is endangering eyes everywhere. In the video, a brown-eyed girl shows viewers how they can use filters and their phone’s flash to make their eyes appear to be different colors.
The trick involves staring into the camera flash without blinking for several seconds. According to optometrists, doing so can create temporary blindness or even permanent blind spots in vision. In fact, hundreds of comments on the original video are complaints of dysfunctional vision from people who have tried it, according to The Sun.
Hot Water Challenge
Some of these challenges are so brutal and cruel, they essentially amount to assault. The hot water challenge involves, simply, pouring boiling hot water onto someone, invariably causing injury. One boy in Indianna told local news that, when his friend poured boiling water on him, “my skin just fell off my chest, and then I looked in the mirror and I had skin falling off here and on my face.”
Cupid’s Bow Challenge
So many dangerous TikTok trends seem to be aimed at gaining full, pouty lips. The Cupid’s Bow challenge trades in the Kylie Jenner shot glass for a tiny dab of glue applied just above the lip.
The upper lip is then pulled up and glued to the skin between the mouth and nose, creating a look of fullness.
While this may seem like a relatively harmless, if silly, way to add some volume to your lips, dermatologists have warned against applying glue to the sensitive skin on the face. According to these health professionals, doing so may cause skin conditions, not to mention the pain of un-gluing your lip from your face.
TikTok trends don’t get much simpler — or more dangerous — than this. The fire challenge is easy to participate in: simply cover yourself in flammable liquid and light it on fire.
It may seem to defy all common sense, but then, teenage recklessness knows no bounds. The fire challenge carries significant risk of, obviously, first- or second-degree burns — assuming the flames are extinguished quickly. Read more about it here.
The appeal of some dangerous TikTok trends is trying to get the challenge just right. Unfortunately, doing it right places the participant in immediate danger.
The condom challenge involves one person dropping a condom filled with water on other person’s head. When performed right, the condom seals perfectly around the head, trapping the water inside with it. Of course, it’s not hard to see why sealing your head inside an air-tight bag of water might be dangerous. Best to avoid this challenge and get those lungs the air they need!