Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok is known for its viral challenges, which often fall into the category of musical performances, dance, pranks, and more. Lately, however, the challenges have taken a dark turn with what is called the "devious licks" challenge, which "challenges" participants to get into trouble in school by acting out inappropriately or damaging school property, among other things. Users are then encouraged to share footage of their acts on TikTok.
"The devious lick challenge is a series of challenges that center around types of vandalism," CBN News' Digital Lifestyle Contributor Caleb Kinchlow explained. "What we're seeing across the country are students who are stealing class supplies, completely destroying bathrooms. Educators across the country are really concerned about this. They're sending out notices to parents to be aware and talk to their students."
Students in middle school, high school, and college are instructed to act chaotically or vandalize school property between September and July and share it on TikTok. But destruction of school property isn't the only activity being encouraged by the "devious licks" challenges. Kinchlow said, "Some of the challenges consist of smack a teacher, expose yourself, flipping out and causing a ruckus in the school office. It's a list of things for the upcoming months."
Kinchlow advised parents to be aware of such challenges and the list of destructive activities associated with it to discuss it with children at home. He remarked, "This really is a major concern for a lot of people because a lot of these challenges are considered assault, vandalism, and indecent exposure."
The "devious licks" challenge and others like it are concerning parents as more Americans aged 12 to 17 are using the platform on a weekly basis, even surpassing the use of Instagram, CNBC reported in November. Forrester researchers found that 63% of Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 used TikTok on a weekly basis compared to Instagram, which attracted only 57% of the same age group.
Forrester analyst Mike Proulx explained in an email how Gen Z youth found TikTok to be "funnier and more positive versus other social media platforms" and how one of its "strongest differentiators" is its community of creators.
Meanwhile, Lousiana and Montana attorneys Jeff Landry and Austin Knudsen who wrote in an op-ed for the Daily Advertiser argued in November that a recent study showed how Americans as young as four to 15 years of age spend almost 86 minutes a day on TikTok, which was described as a platform "filled with sex, drugs, and violent challenges."
Moreover, recent reports showed that TikTok "in practice promotes violence and vandalism in schools, deadly viral challenges, bullying, eating disorders, grooming, and manipulative influencer marketing" while "pushing pornography, drug, and alcoholic content to minors," a report from the New York Times revealed in September. Attorneys described the platform as "the most dangerous social media platform for children, despite competition from Facebook."