PARENTS BEWARE: a 10-year-old girl allegedly died because of ‘Blackout Challenge’

Published January 25, 2021, 3:58 PM

by Jessica Pag-iwayan

The government of Italy is looking to block the video-sharing social networking app if demands would not be met

Image by Pan Xiaozhen (Unsplash | MANILA BULLETIN)

In Italy, a 10-year-old girl was found dead with her phone and according to report, the girl allegedly participated in the “blackout challenge” circulating on social media platform TikTok.

Now, Italian prosecutors have opened a probe into the accidental death of this young girl. The investigation came as Italy announced it had temporarily blocked access to TikTok for users whose age could not be proved definitively.

According to AFP report, the girl died in a Palermo hospital after being discovered last January 20, Wednesday by her five-year-old sister in the family bathroom with her cellphone which was seized by police.

Medical experts have warned about the danger of the challenge being taken up by some young people, who refer to it as “scarfing” or “the choking game” in which restricted oxygen to the brain results in a high. Meanwhile, the girls’ parents told La Repubblica newspaper that another daughter explained that her sister “was playing the blackout game.”

“We didn’t know anything,” the girl’s father told the paper. “We didn’t know she was participating in this game. We knew that (our daughter) went on TikTok for dances, to look at videos. How could I imagine this atrocity?”

Only for 13 years old and above
According to TikTok’s terms and conditions users must be at least 13-years-old.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, said last January 22, Friday, that it has not been able to identify any content on its site that could have encouraged the girl to participate in any such challenge, but is helping the Italian authorities in the probe over possible “incitement to suicide.”

The Italian Data Protection Authority said in a statement later on Friday that it would “block the (Chinese) social media network” with immediate effect until February 15, by which date the network will have to meet the regulator’s demands.

Italy’s data protection agency filed a lawsuit against TikTok in December, alleging a “lack of attention to the protection of minors” and criticising the ease with which very young children could sign up to the video app.

The death of the young girl provoked strong reactions in Italy, calling for better regulation of social networks. 

“Social networks can’t become a jungle where anything is allowed,” said Licia Ronzulli, president of Italy’s parliamentary commission on child protection. (AFP)