TikTok has once again drawn attention following a 12-year-old boy's death due to the video-sharing app's "blackout challenge."

The said challenge has been connected to several deaths of children. The social media stunt encouraged people to hold their breath until they pass out. One of those who participated was Joshua Haileyesus from Aurora, Colorado, according to CBS News.

The 12-year-old boy was found unconscious in his home with ligature marks around his neck last March 22 and was put on life support in a hospital.

Nineteen days later, Haileyesus died. The boy's family believed that he has accidentally choked himself with a shoelace while trying the blackout challenge. His father said their house is now very quiet, now with his son gone.

Advocates urged TikTok to improve its parental monitoring features due to the number of deaths surrounding the challenge.

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TikTok's Safety

Attorney Dalia Hashad said that TikTok is not a safe place for kids. Hashad is advising ParentsTogether, a group calling for the social media company to change its practices.

More than 12,000 parents have signed in an open letter asking TikTok to launch a new feature that would allow parents to see what their children see on social media, according to a Fox 31 Chicago News report.

ParentsTogether CEO Vanessa Pappas urged TikTok to introduce a "mirror" setting for parents to keep tabs on what their children are viewing.

The group said that TikTok should allow parents to see mirror accounts of their minor children. The group noted that it would allow parents to monitor the often dangerous content their kids see and talk to their children about harmful content.

Authorities had warned parents to stay involved in their children's social media use. Bethany Police Department in Oklahoma said in a statement that social media is a very influential part of a child's life and should be heavily monitored by parents.

TikTok 'Blackout Challenge'

The blackout challenge did not originate from TikTok. It was sometimes called the "choking game." Online platforms made information about them more accessible, and it has led more children to try it alone rather than with friends, Insider reported.

A 2008 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study reported that there were 82 probably choking-game deaths between ages six to 19 from 1995 to 2007.

In June, 9-year-old LaTerius "TJ" Smith Jr. from Tennessee was also found dead after playing a TikTok challenge. His family found him hanging by a belt in his closet.

The blackout challenge is not the only dangerous challenge that can be found on the platform. There was also one that was called the "nutmeg challenge."

The nutmeg challenge urges people to ingest dangerous amounts of the spice, having over 46 million views at one point.

TikTok said they were removing content related to the said challenge while also making the hashtag unavailable. Justin Ruben, co-director of ParentsTogether, said that dangerous challenges could spread like wildfire and turn tragic.

Mitchell Prinstein, chief science officer at the American Psychological Association, further noted that kids are biologically built to become much more susceptible to peers, while social media magnified peer influence.

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Written by: Mary Webber

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