The Blackout Challenge also called the Choke Challenge and the Pass-out Challenge, is not new! In fact, pre social media, 15 years ago, teens were already daring other teens to choke themselves, to hold their breath for as long as they could UNTIL THEY PASSED OUT!
But, as recently as August of this year, the pass-out challenge has re-surfaced once more to seduce and scare our tweens and teens into bizarre behaviours.
WHAT IS THE BLACKOUT CHALLENGE/CHOKE CHALLENGE?
This is challenge that dares people to choke themselves, either by hanging themselves, tying a scarf around their neck very tightly or getting someone else to do it for you until you signal you have had enough, IF YOU ARE STILL ABLE TO SIGNAL)
Albeit that over the last decade 80 deaths have occurred in respect of this challenge, what is different of course is the challenge is now an online one and what better platform than TikTok!! One minute it’s a little clip on how to improve your Fortnite skills, the next you are watching a child choke themselves to death.
’BUT I WAS ONLY WATCHING!‘
While some t/weens are actively engaging the challenge in the hope of cashing in the ‘likes’ and augmenting their perceived cool factor, *others are getting their kicks from simply watching, as a voyeur, on the platform that knows no limits! *
Watching it all go down is equally exciting especially when there is a REAL RISK OF SEEING OTHERS BECOME DISORIENTED, DAZED AND TRAGICALLY, EVEN DYING!
And it is because of the watchers, the ones that give their thumbs up to the craziness of it all, that the challenge goes viral.
WHY ARE OUR TEENS DOING IT?
From the Dry-Scooping challenge (a TikTok challenge that encourages teens to take a dry scoop of pre-workout powders before they gym) to climbing on stacks of milk crates, death defying challenges like the Blackout Challenge appeal to teens because, simply because… they feel exciting!
The teenage brain likes risk and these challenges are all about risk-taking and the surge of dopamine that accompanies them! Kids on the spectrum and those with ADD and ADHD are also more inclined to be impulsive so when we combine dopamine offerings, with a kick of impulsivity – a lethal and enticingly wrapped box appears before their eyes!
WHAT OUR TEENS DON’T KNOW
While it is easy to say our teens and tweens just love risk, it is a little more complicated than that. *When it comes to the Choke Challenge, they really aren’t informed – they can’t discern risk from real life-threatening danger. They don’t know that *JUST THREE MINUTES OF REDUCING OXYGEN TO THE BRAIN CAN INDUCE PERMANENT BRAIN DAMAGE and FIVE MINUTES OF OXYGEN DEPRIVATION TO THE BRAIN CAN EQUATE TO DEATH. In this case, we at KLIKD believe it is also a lack of the real information!
Liking or sharing other people’s post that ultimately cause extreme harm to others could even have legal consequences for our screenagers.
SO WHAT SHOULD I DO?
We need to explain all FOUR bits of information that contribute to our teens engaging in the choke challenge:
- Risk feels exciting to your T/ween brain
- We are more likely to be impulsive and do ‘silly’ things if we are ADHD, on the ASD spectrum so if you have a friend who is like that, help them to handbrake
- The Choke Challenge does more than make you pass out – three minutes equals brain damage, five minutes equals death.
- Watching and liking is also participating as it contributes to more people wanting to do it and could have legal consequences too.
- Have you heard about or ever seen the Blackout Challenge on TikTok? (if not explain it for what it is – a challenge that dares people to choke themselves, either by hanging, tying a scarf around their neck very tightly, getting someone else to do it for you until you signal you have had enough, IF YOU ARE STILL ABLE TO SIGNAL)
- Do you know anyone that has tried it?
- What do you think about these challenges – fun, crazy, both?
- Why do you think teens get into challenges like these (explain how risk can feel rewarding, how dopamine surges through the brain, how impulsivity can feel exciting etc)
- Do you know that just three minutes of depriving oxygen to your brain can leave you permanently brain damaged?
- How many minutes of oxygen deprivation to the brain do you think it takes to kill a person and leave them brain dead? Five, just five!
- What role do you think you would play in a challenge like this if you are just ‘liking’ a Blackout Challenge clip (explain how liking assists people to get the reward they are looking for and it makes the clip go viral, pop up more often, show you more clips with a similar theme etc).
Sarah and Pam