More parents are coming after TikTok after their daughters fell victim to a deadly Internet challenge.
If you haven’t heard of the “blackout challenge,” the goal is to strangle yourself until you become unconscious. Kids talking each other into doing this has been around for decades, but social media has made peer pressure so much worse with these internet challenges. And doing it for the camera means these kids are often all alone. So the already dangerous childhood game has become even deadlier.
Arriani Jaileen Arroyo and Lalani Walton are just two of several who tragically passed away doing the “blackout challenge.” And now their parents are coming for the app where they heard about it.
Arriani passed on February 26, 2021 after attempting the challenge. Her mother, Christal Arroyo Roman sat down with Good Morning America Thursday for an interview where she explained how hard it’s been living without her daughter, expressing:
“This is not easy, to wake up every day and know that your little girl is never coming back.”
We couldn’t imagine that sort of pain.
A GoFundMe was started last year to help with funeral expenses; the 9-year-old’s family wrote about their little girl with high regard, explaining on the page:
“This beautiful soul was wise and intelligent beyond her years. Her future was exceptionally bright. We can’t count how many hearts she filled with her joy, energy, and magnetic personality.”
Christal and Heriberto Arroyo Roman, Arriani’s father, concluded the GoFundMe post with a warning to other parents:
“Even with close monitoring, there are still ways for children to be exposed to danger. Monitor what they are viewing, ask questions, and report anything that is dangerous.”
Sadly, the tragedy didn’t end there as 8-year-old Lalani also died from strangulation following an attempt of the lethal challenge last July, five months after Arriani passed. Her family shared in her obituary:
“She will always be remembered as a talented singer, having an outgoing personality, and had the biggest pretty eyes. She enjoyed spending time with her family. dressing up as a princess, and doing her makeup. She collected LOL dolls and her favorite color was pink.”
What a devastation.
Now, the parents of the two young girls are suing TikTok, who they believe is to blame for the popularization of the deadly challenge. Christal explained to GMA:
“We just never thought that there was a darker side to what TikTok allows on its platform.”
Heriberto followed up her statement with one of his own, explaining:
“We just want people to be aware, because we don’t want no other children out there to be a statistic of this situation again. We want to make sure that we can save other kids.”
In court documents acquired by the Los Angeles Times, it was revealed that young Arriani “gradually became obsessive” with TikTok, which is a common fear parents have over their children’s social media use. She was found “hanging from the family’s dog leash” by her brother Edwardo. She later died at a local hospital after becoming brain dead on a ventilator.
As for Lalani, her family alleges she became intrigued by the “blackout challenge” after viewing several videos on a 20-hour car ride. Shortly after they arrived home from the drive, her stepmother found her “hanging from her bed with a rope around her neck.” Police later checked her phone and discovered that Lalani had viewed the challenge “on repeat” and was “under the belief that if she posted a video of herself doing the ‘Blackout Challenge,’ then she would become famous.” Poor baby.
Arriani and Lalani’s families are just the latest to blame TikTok after their children died from the blackout challenge. In May, Tawainna Anderson filed a wrongful death suit after finding her daughter Lylah hanging by a clothes hanger in her closet after trying to mimic videos she’d seen.
That lawsuit lists four other children who died doing the challenge after seeing it on TikTok since April 2020 — a 14-year-old boy in Australia, a 10-year-old girl in Italy, a 12-year-old boy in Colorado, and a 12-year-old boy in Oklahoma. That’s at least seven kids dead for all those parents counting out there.
A spokesperson for TikTok released a statement to the Washington Post in response to that suit, explaining the platform’s stance on the challenge:
“[The] disturbing ‘challenge,’ which people seem to learn about from sources other than TikTok, long predates our platform and has never been a TikTok trend. We remain vigilant in our commitment to user safety and would immediately remove related content if found.”
Obviously it predates TikTok, but saying it’s “never been a TikTok trend” seems pretty provably inaccurate. They added that they blocked the #BlackoutChallenge from being searchable. Is that enough? What should they do??
What are your thoughts on the deadly challenge? Are the parents right to go after TikTok? Let us know in the comments below.