Mental health expert explains children and viral TikTok challenges

[anvplayer video=”5061884″ station=”998127″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – It’s these viral TikTok challenges that make you ask, why?

Why on earth would children or anyone for that matter steal fire alarms from schools or doors off cars? It’s a trend not only happening in New Mexico, but around the country.

Several schools in the state have said it’s been happening to them. Children stealing soap dispensers and vandalizing the bathrooms.

"I think most kids know right from wrong really at an early age, but I think during adolescence knowing and choosing are two different things," said Kellie Tomlin, a licensed clinical social worker at Bosque Mental Health. As to why children are getting involved in these so-called challenges, she said part of the reason is children growing up.

"Your frontal lobe when you are an adolescent isn’t done developing and reaching psycho social maturity until mid-20s,” Tomlin said. “So that’s risk taking, impulse control, sensation seeking and not really thinking about consequences."

It’s also children wanting to fit in at school.

"With TikTok, everything is viral so they want to be a part of this thing and that fear of missing out, they don’t want to be the ones that aren’t the cool kids,” said Tomlin.

It’s also the feeling children and even adults get when they post to social media and get attention from friends, classmates, even random people.

"It’s the ultimate form of peer pressure, it’s like all of a sudden peers are liking you and strangers are giving you the thumbs up or the hearts and it can be really addictive actually,” Tomlin said.

The other question is, what can parents do to stop their children from doing these ridiculous challenges? Tomlin said getting rid of your child’s social media may not be the answer. Rather, parents really need to talk with their children about what is going on online and ask them about how they feel about these pranks.

"We need to do that with what is trending on social media and we need to know what is coming out of the chute, so we know to talk with our children about hypothetical situations,” Tomlin said.

Tomlin added that parents need to also tell their children the consequences of participating in some of these challenges that could land someone behind bars.