At the root, rising interest in TikTok’s ‘DeviousLicks’ and Squid Games reflects a starved generation

When are social media challenges harmless versus inappropriate behavior? It’s time we talk to our kids about boundaries.

It’s hard to turn a blind eye to the kind of madness we’re seeing in schools nationwide. From students stealing and vandalizing school property to spraying red dye around bathroom stalls to mimic blood stains, these TikTok challenges are catching on like COVID-19. Is this simply hell breaking loose with social media solely to blame? This mom writer seems to think not:

“Adults need to see the obvious: #DeviousLicks is a protest. A crappy, poorly executed version of a protest.”

Rebels with or without a cause?

While there’s no excuse for mindless destruction, maybe we’re missing the full story. If all behavior is communication, could this level of hell actually be our youth’s desperate cry for help? It’s no coincidence that we’re seeing anxiety disorders and suicide hospitalization rates on the rise. Not to mention, these challenges smell alot like what’s going on next door in Netflix land (and apparently now in playgrounds) with Squid Games.

It makes me wonder…are our kids so starved for connection, belonging and unity that they’ll literally put their own and others’ lives at risk just to be socially accepted as cool?

Quit playing games with my heart

It’s no secret. “The same emotions that make you feel connected to a charitable viral challenge can make you equally motivated to participate in other more extreme viral trends that could even be dangerous,” says a clinical psychologist at the University of Mexico.

Even if your kids are playing by the rules now, there’s definitely no harm in helping them understand healthy boundaries. How?

1. Support them to develop a strong sense of identity outside of their online presence.
2. School yourself on the latest and upcoming TikTok challenges to know (and teach your kids) the difference between harmless fun and destructive behavior.

Written by Tiffany Wen

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