TikTok Trends That Parents Should Be Aware Of

Haley Zapal | March 25, 2021 | Culture & Media Internet Safety Tips

Have you ever seen your child recording themselves trying to master all the steps to a 10-part TikTok dance routine? If so, you probably know how alluring the pull to participate in TikTok trends can be for kids. TikTok is a huge part of tween and teen culture these days, influencing everything from fashion and slang to music and memes

In fact, TikTok trends have surpassed mere viral dance moves and now include complex skits, jokes-within-jokes, collaborative songs, stitched-together video formats, and more.  Remember when everyone was singing sea shanties a few months ago? This is just one of the many TikTok trends that come from the popular app! Most are relatively harmless, and some are even highly creative. Unfortunately, potentially life-threatening challenges also go viral from time to time, and they present great dangers to kids chasing TikTok fame. These types of dangerous TikTok challenges are almost always changing, but we wanted to give you a guide to some of the ones that have gained the most attention — good and bad. Check out our list of popular TikTok trends down below.

Humor is a big part of TikTok, and puns, skits, and humorous observations are common all throughout the platform, no matter what the subject matter is. TikTok trends revolving around the same format or sound go viral often, relying on the power of hashtags. While this category is typically harmless, sometimes it can evolve into one of many dangerous TikTok challenges when the user tries doing something to cause physical harm or danger to elicit a stronger response from the audience.

Waking up in the morning

Blonde woman in TikTok video

These trends on TikTok feature lyrics to a child singing song about trying to get over a challenging time in life. Then, it jump-cuts to a video of something from the user’s past that was embarrassing or awkward. This trend works especially well for Gen Z, as they often have a lot of easily accessible (and cringey!) video footage from when they were younger.

Psychedelic clown

Woman with clown makeup holding cat

These humorous self-deprecating trends on TikTok incorporate a colorful, interactive clown filter with silly music. People use it to recount times they “were a clown” — that is, when they did something silly or embarrassing. Using the clown emoji while texting means the same thing!

Regardless of what you think about TikTok, it’s hard not to be impressed by some of the craftsmanship that goes into the production of some videos. Splicing together scenes, adding sound effects, and embedding text are just a few of the ways users express themselves. These types of trends urge users to find something about their inner world or life experiences and share it with others.

Day in the life

Woman drinking from large cup

Curious about all of the different activities a person does in a day? With this trend, users make a mash-up of their daily routines, all set to a sprightly tune. There are thousands of videos in this genre, featuring kids, teens, and adults from cities all over the world and from all walks of life. While this is not usually classified as one of the dangerous TikTok challenges on the app, users who participate can inadvertently divulge private information that cyber criminals may be able to use. 

What’s a video that lives in your head rent-free?

Woman with glasses leaning on elbow

These videos all start with the same clip of a woman asking for an example of a video that people love (“rent-free” just means that you think about it a lot for no reason). Users then pick a favorite scene from a movie, TV show, or meme to splice to question video.

While TikTok is popular with kids, it’s also very popular with adults, too. This means that sometimes trends may catch on that was never meant to spread to children — especially trends that feature sexually charged themes. These themed videos can contribute to the presence of dangerous TikTok challenges and sometimes slip past traditional parental controls that are in place.

Silhouette challenge

This NSFW challenge features a red-light filter and a quick-change edit to the user standing provocatively in a doorway — sometimes with lingerie, sometimes with nothing at all. Meant to originally be a body-empowerment trend for adults, it was soon upended by controversy as an editing trick to reverse-engineer the filter was leaked. Because the video creators are often wearing little clothing, without the filter, they become exposed — this is one of the more severe and dangerous TikTok challenges for underage users.

Buss it challenge

A popular song by singer Erica Banks serves as the soundtrack to this challenge, which requires users to squat down in slow motion and bounce. While it doesn’t have to be suggestive — and many versions aren’t — the majority tend to amp it up to the R-rated level.

These are the kind of TikTok trends that you hear about in the news — challenges that kids flock to and then end up injured or worse. Often, they stem from rumors that every day, household objects may lead to getting high or result in an unexpected physical effect. 

Kids can be quick to try things they see online, especially when their peers are posting videos about it on their favorite platform and trying it out may result in a spike in popularity. When they’re at this age, kids are still learning to evaluate what’s true and what’s false. At the end of the day, they’re still kids — and the part of their brains responsible for critical thinking is still developing.

Note: While the examples below were prominent a while back, viral trends have been known to return every so often, like the Momo Challenge.

Benadryl challenge

This trend revolves around teens daring each other to take large quantities of Benadryl, an anti-allergy medicine, in order to trigger hallucinations. While the pill usually just makes you sleepy, when taken in large enough doses, it can be fatal. This tragic challenge is incredibly dangerous and has resulted in the death of a teen. The Benadryl challenge is one of the most dangerous TikTok challenges that existed on the platform.

Blackout challenge

Another deadly trend involves holding one’s breath (manually or while using something like a belt) until you pass out. Also known as the “Pass Out Challenge,” this activity can cause kids to lose consciousness — sometimes to the point of brain damage or death. 

Morning-after-pill challenge

A rumor that pregnancy tests contain secret “Plan B” emergency contraception pills turned into a dangerous trend this past winter. The company that manufactures the tests tried to quell the viral trend by explaining that the tablet is just silica gel meant to absorb moisture, but countless teens have tried it. 

Like all fads, TikTok trends come and go. It’s important to have regular conversations with your kids about the kinds of things they’re watching on the platform. This way, you can get a feel for what they’re being exposed to. Talk about the dangers as well as the potential consequences of the more worrisome challenges and popular TikTok trends. And if you’re looking for some kid-friendly accounts that are light on danger, we’ve got some suggestions the whole family will enjoy! Plus, learn more about what's going on in your kid's world here!

How to Block TikTok with Bark

  1. From your dashboard, find your child’s profile.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Choose Parental controls.
  4. Review the rule sets you’ve scheduled.
  5. Scroll down until you see Screen time rule sets and select the rule set currently applied.
  6. Toggle TikTok to Blocked
  7. Repeat these steps for any other screen time rule sets you’ve scheduled.
  8. You’re all set!

About Bark

Bark is a comprehensive online safety solution that empowers families to monitor content, manage screen time, and filter websites to help protect their kids online. Our mission is to give parents and guardians the tools they need to raise kids in the digital age.