A 12 year old boy in Oklahoma died last month after participating in a social media challenge he found on TikTok. Young people have been encouraging each other to choke themselves beyond the point of blackout. They are told that the euphoric feeling when they regain consciousness will be worth it. The Oklahoman boy, who has not been named, was found unresponsive with ligature marks around his neck.
In the words of psychologist Mitchell Prinstein, “Kids are biologically built to become much more susceptible to peers in adolescence, and social media has magnified those peer-influenced processes to be much. much more dangerous than they were before.”
A young developing brain is only gradually getting a sense of what is normal behavior, and of where one fits into a broader world. Social media complicates this. Social networking can lead to an adolescent finding 20 posts in his feed one day about peers who have choked themselves and delighted in the euphoria of it.
In Pill Form:
Prinstein said, “We [parents and mental health professionals] have to be dedicating a lot of energy and time to asking the kids ‘Show me, tell me, explain to me what does that mean? What does it feel like to you when you see that?'”