The dangers of children using social media are known by most parents. But children losing their lives because of following a viral trend they have seen on social media is a danger most parents never thought they would have to worry about…
Arriani Jaileen Arroyo was a 9-year-old hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was just 7 years old when her parents gave her her very first phone. Naturally, little Arriani downloaded the popular app TikTok and would often post videos on the platform.
The videos she posted were of a harmless nature, of her singing or dancing. As she continued to use the app, according to her family, she became obsessed with participating in TikTok challenges.
The family is being represented by Social Media Victims Law Center (SMVLC), which released a press statement on their behalf, the statement said, “Because many of these Tik Tok challenges involved eating and dancing, Arriani’s parents did not regard them as dangerous.”
On February 26, 2021, Arriani’s 5-year-old little brother found her unconscious. She was hanging from a dog’s leash she had seemed to affix to the door of her room.
The little boy went to notify their father who was in the basement at the time. The father immediately called emergency services and Arriani was rushed to a hospital. She was then put on life support.
“She had been in this condition for at least a half-hour in front of her 5-year-old brother. Testing revealed that Arriani had permanent, irreversible brain damage and complete loss of brain function, and her family made the difficult decision to withdraw life support,” SMVLC said.
In a similar case, 8-year-old Lalani Erika Renee Walton received a cell phone from her parents. The Temple, Texas native also posted videos of herself dancing and singing on TikTok.
On July 15, 2021, Lalani arrived back home from a road trip with her stepmother, Rashika Watson. Rashika told Lalani to clean her room while she napped for a while, and after they were done they could go swimming.
Rashika woke up from her nap an hour later and went to check on Lalani only to find her hanging from her bed with a rope around her neck. She was still warm when Rashika touched her. Officials that arrived on the scene, pronounced her dead due to asphyxiation.
According to SMVLC, both girls participated in a TikTok challenge titled, the “blackout challenge.” This trend encourages users to choke themselves using objects like belts, purse strings, or other similar things until they pass out.
The lawsuit the families have filed says, that TikTok is “an addictive product that is not safe for users.”
Matthew P. Bergman, the founding attorney for SMVLC said, “TikTok needs to be held accountable for pushing deadly content to these two young girls. TikTok has invested billions of dollars to intentionally design products that push dangerous content that it knows are dangerous and can result in the deaths of its users.”
The TikTok app is mainly marketed to children who are 13 years or above in age. The app has an age gate that users need to pass, and for anyone under the age limit, the app works differently.
It is so devastating to know that these families lost their little girls because of a social media trend.
Please share this piece to make people more aware about the impact social media can have on children.