A 13-year-old New Jersey boy was reportedly hospitalized earlier this month after taking part in the so-called “Benadryl challenge” on TikTok, according to local news.
The challenge, which first emerged years ago on social media, encourages users to consume well over the recommended dosage of Benadryl tablets to experience hallucinations.
The mother of the hospitalized New Jersey boy told WNBC that her son “was curled in a fetal position on the floor, eyes dilated, like staring into space, couldn’t move, couldn’t walk” after participating in the challenge.
Authorities transported the boy, who consumed an unknown number of Benadryl tablets while his parents were out on a date, to Riverview Hospital in Red Bank. He was later transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center, where he received treatment in the ICU.
The “Benadryl challenge,” which first emerged years ago on social media, encourages users to consume well over the recommended dosage of Benadryl tablets in order to experience hallucinations. (Mario Tama)
“We need awareness to help our children and ourselves to become aware of the danger,” his mother told WNBC. “We need a safety plan now, and every parent should have one.”
The challenge recently took the life of 13-year-old Jacob Stevens of Ohio, according to his father, Justin Stevens.
“They sit back and make billions and billions of dollars,” Stevens told Fox News Digital of TikTok, “and I can’t even wake up and say hello to my kid anymore, you know?”
Like many parents, Stevens saw Jacob using TikTok and assumed the app displayed kid-friendly content, like “a funny person that’s singing a song.”
Jacob Stevens, 13, spent six days hospitalized with no brain activity after partaking in the “Benadryl challenge” on TikTok before his family decided to take him off life support. (Justin Stevens/ Facebook)
“I’ve never seen that other side of TikTok. All I can say it: pay closer attention to what your kids are doing,” Stevens said.
A TikTok spokesperson told Fox News Digital in a statement that the company’s “deepest sympathies go out to the family.”
“At TikTok, we strictly prohibit and remove content that promotes dangerous behavior with the safety of our community as a priority. We have never seen this type of content trend on our platform and have blocked searches for years to help discourage copycat behavior,” the spokesperson said. “Our team of 40,000 safety professionals works to remove violations of our community guidelines, and we encourage our community to report any content or accounts they’re concerned about.”
TikTok’s community guidelines state that dangerous “challenges” are against the app’s rules. (Marijan Murat/picture alliance)
TikTok’s community guidelines state that dangerous “challenges” are against the app’s rules.
“We do not permit users to share content depicting, promoting, normalizing or glorifying dangerous acts that may lead to serious injury or death,” TikTok’s community guidelines state. “We also do not allow content which promotes or endorses collective participation in dangerous or harmful activities that violate any aspect of our Community Guidelines.”
TikTok defines dangerous acts or behavior “as activities conducted in a non-professional context or without the necessary skills and safety precautions that may lead to serious injury or death for the user or the public. This includes amateur stunts or dangerous challenges.”