A new month, a new worry for principals, as students take on the challenges of social media to disrupt the school day. The problem is, TikTok challenges are often disruptive and illegal.
In September, the challenge was called “Sneaky Licks” and called on students to rob campuses or vandalize facilities.
In October, the “Slap a Teacher” challenge invites students to film and post videos of a student slapping a teacher or staff member.
“It’s become addicting for kids to want that, that follows, that approval. There are people who throw challenges that people want to participate in,” said child psychologist Anastasia Taylor.
Taylor says pranks and challenges fuel the desire to fit in, and parents need to ask their kids serious questions. “What would you do if someone you thought was cool did this? What would you do if they challenged you to be in a video? The more we talk about these things proactively, I hope that will not continue any further, “said Taylor, who urges parents to talk to their children not to give in to peer pressure.
The challenges have gotten so bad that school districts in North Texas are sending notes to parents. Fort worth, Mansfield and Denton are a few districts that have told families the consequences will be serious.
Future challenges will apparently include everything from improper touching to egg theft. Schools can do nothing more than warn that this is not about fun games, but in many cases it is criminal activity.
TikTok has responded to the challenge trend by trying to remove content and redirect hashtags associated with challenges to its community guidelines page.