In the same ridiculous tradition as the infamous “Tide pod challenge” and “shell on challenge,” there’s a new viral challenge knocking around on social media – and it’s already resulting in hospital visits and criminal cases.
The “Skull-Breaker Challenge” is a viral challenge that’s recently emerged on the video platform TikTok. The “challenge," which is exactly as fun as it sounds, involves two people standing either side of a third person and sweeping their legs from underneath them as they jump up in the air, causing them to quickly fall backward and hit the ground, sometimes head first.
Although barely a month old, the craze has already caused a lot of trouble.
Two minors in New Jersey have been charged with third-degree Aggravated Assault and third-degree Endangering an Injured Victim as their attempt at the “Skull Breaker Challenge” resulted in another minor suffering a seizure and concussion, according to The Office of the Camden Country Prosecutor.
There has also been a fair number of concerned parents posting on Facebook saying their child was injured following a “Skull-Breaker Challenge.” One widely shared post shows a young boy who was hospitalized with a concussion after being left unconscious as a result of the challenge. His mother explains that he “landed hard flat on his back and head, as he struggled to get up he lost consciousness, he fell forward landing on his face.” Another post shows a boy who broke his arm after he was “unknowingly TikTok pranked.”
A bump on the head is no laughing matter. An increasing amount of scientific research is showing the shocking effect that concussions can have on the brain. In the most extreme cases, repetitive head injuries can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease in which the brain tissue literally shrivels up.
It was once thought that head injuries were only a significant problem for people who experience persistent traumatic brain injury throughout their lives, such as professional boxers or NFL players. However, it’s starting to look like even the occasional head injury is associated with serious health problems in later life. A study in 2018 found that experiencing just a single traumatic brain injury, which includes concussions, can dramatically increase your risk of dementia.
In light of the craze, TikTok has issued a fresh warning about sharing “dangerous challenges” on its platform.
“The safety of users is our top priority at TikTok, and we do not allow content that encourages or replicates dangerous challenges that might lead to injury. In fact, it's a violation of our Community Guidelines and we will continue to remove this type of content from our platform,” TikTok said in a statement on February 27.
“More importantly, we encourage everyone to exercise caution in their behavior whether online or off. Nobody wants their friends or family to get hurt filming a video or trying a stunt. It's not funny – and since we remove that sort of content, it certainly won't make you TikTok famous.”