Viral “Blackout Challenge” poses risk to kids; experts offer tips to help your children stay safe

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO)- A recent TikTok trend could put your child at risk. In the “Blackout Challenge”, users try to make themselves pass out on camera.

In Colorado, the family of 12-year old Joshua Haileysus says their child is now brain dead after taking part earlier this month.

Experts say it’s just the latest viral craze that’s turned dangerous for kids.

“It escalates. It’s one person tries something, and then the other person tries to one up,” said child psychologist and parenting expert Reena B. Patel. “Children are the most vulnerable. Why? Because they want to fit in. They want any type of attention.”

David Gunkel, media studies professor at Northern Illinois University, says kids on social media may be compelled to participate in behavior they know to be risky because of peer pressure online.

“Whenever we talked about peer pressure in the past, it was always about smoking or drinking or other behaviors that would happen outside in the so-called ‘real world.’ Now we have peer pressure being exerted in video games, on TikTok, on Instagram,” Gunkel said.

Gunkel and Patel think the first step to keeping your kids safe is to consider a minimum age for allowing them to use certain web apps.

They agree, if your children are on social media, it’s important to engage them about their online activity on a regular basis.

“One of the best tips I give parents who have children on social media is that you yourself need to be on that same platform, so you understand what it is,” said Patel.

“Using it as an ability for parent and child to connect, and using it as an excuse to have some quality time with your kid I think is really crucial,” said Gunkel.

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