Internet challenges are nothing new, and some of them – the Running Man Challenge or the Cheerio Stack Challenge, for example – are relatively harmless. Others have helped raise awareness and funding for good causes, like the Ice Bucket Challenge did for ALS.
Many of them, however, are really dangerous, and the latest viral craze on TikTok, the Skull Breaker Challenge, is one example. The premise of the challenge is that three people stand in a row. First, the two people on the outside jump. Then, the person in the middle jumps. When he/she does, the people on the outside kick out the legs of the person in the middle, disrupting the jumper’s balance, and causing the jumper to fall and hit his/her head.
Forget Tide Pods. Forget planking. This latest challenge is incredibly dangerous, and children all over the country have sustained serious head and traumatic brain injuries, concussions, loss of consciousness, facial bruising, broken bones and lacerations. The stunt it so dangerous that Tik Tok issued a statement to Fox News saying the company was doing whatever it could to remove the videos:
“The safety of our users is our top priority at TikTok, and we do not allow content that encourages or replicates dangerous challenges that might lead to injury. The behavior in question is a violation of our Community Guidelines and we will continue to remove this content from our platform.”
What parents can do to help keep their children safe
If you’re like most parents, banning the Internet or taking the phone away might work as a short-term punishment, but it’s not sustainable long-term. Your kids may need to be online to do research or homework, submit assignments, or even take classes. There are things you can do, though, that can add some extra protections:
- Disable all social media platforms on your child’s phone. You can block sites like Tik Tok and programs like SnapChat so your child cannot access them.
- Monitor all social media usage at home. If your kids feel “left out” from the online social scene, you can still allow them to use those sites from a home computer or laptop, and monitor their usage. There are some terrific apps out there that can limit the amount of time your child stays on a site, or you can insist that he or she access those sites from a computer you can track.
- Talk to your kids about these challenges and their dangers. The Kiki Challenge in 2018 led to people sustaining brain injuries and being hit by cars. The Salt & Ice Challenge led to 2nd and 3rd degree burns. The Nekominate Challenge led to alcohol poisoning and at least 5 deaths. Warning your children about the real dangers of participating in these challenges is good parenting. Let them know that you know they’re smart enough not to do anything so risky, but that you wanted to make sure they had the facts about what could happen if they did.
- Meet your children’s friends. Make sure you know the kids your children are with when they’re inside or outside of school. You won’t like all of them – we were all young with questionable friends once, weren’t we? – but you do have the right to meet them. If you think there’s a friend or two who might be putting your child in danger, you should speak with your child about that person. Be open and honest about your concerns, but also be willing to give that kid a chance to prove you wrong.
What parents can do if their child is hurt when participating in an Internet challenge
Depending on the circumstances of your child’s injury, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. Understand that the chances are very, very slim that you could successfully sue a social media platform like Tik Tok or Facebook all on your own; these companies are largely protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, because they don’t create content: they provide a place for user-generated content.
But if your child was hurt while participating in the Skull Breaker Challenge, or in any challenge which involves other people purposely attempting to commit harm to your child, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against those other participants. If the injuries happened at school, you may also be able to hold the school, the District, or even the Board of Ed accountable. It all depends on what happened to your child, when, and how.
If you think filing a lawsuit against children seems wrong, know this: you aren’t actually suing the children involved. Your claim would be paid by homeowners’ insurance, or a facility’s liability insurance. That money pays for your child’s medical bills, the costs of getting a tutor if your child misses too much school, and compensates him/ her for pain and suffering.
Internet challenges can be incredibly dangerous. If your child sustains injuries because of the Skull Breaker Challenge on Tik Tok, or from any stunt where other people put him/ her in harm’s way, you have legal options. Larson Law Firm, P.C. helps North Dakota families seek the compensation they need to protect their children’s futures. Contact us in Minot or Bismarck by calling 701-484-4878 or filling out our contact form.
Mark Larson is a Certified Civil Trial Specialist and Certified Civil Pre-Trial Specialist focusing on personal injury, motor vehicle, wrongful death, and oil field claims. Since 1979, Larson Law Firm has served the injured throughout North Dakota. Read more about Mark V. Larson