JEDDAH: A dangerous new social media craze dubbed the skull-breaker challenge, could cause serious injury or even death, Saudis have been warned.
The trend, popularized on the video-sharing app TikTok, involves three participants standing side by side with the outside two filmed kicking the third’s feet out from under them while they all jump in the air.
Also referred to as the tripping jump challenge, the social networking dare that has been sweeping through Europe and the US, has the potential to cause major back and head injuries.
Although there have so far been no reports of the challenge being taken up in the Kingdom, authorities are urging officials and members of the public to vigilant.
Government elementary schoolteacher, Ibtesam Shuqdar, told Arab News that the challenge, often carried out on unsuspecting victims, was a form of bullying.
“As teachers, we understand the challenges that children go through in their school years and we are aware of issues when they arise and deal with them accordingly. One way to do that is to keep the older students away from the younger ones,” she said.
Sara Arkoubi, a high school supervisor at a private international school in Jeddah, said: “We’re aware of the dangers that lurk on social media and we keep parents informed of what’s happening in the school.
“Raising awareness of the dangers of such challenges isn’t always easy to handle, as young students don’t see it as a form of bullying. But we choose our words and stance carefully and as the school has a no bullying policy, we take extra care in keeping vigilant to any form of bullying. “Challenges such as these are more frequent among students of upper grades and although we rarely have issues between our students, it’s still important that we inform them of the dangers and risks and how this challenge, which could be considered as a form of bullying, could do more harm than good,” she added.
Human relations expert and mom-of-three, Rozana Al-Banawi, said that while parents needed to be vigilant and aware of what their children were being exposed to on social media, there also needed to be a level of trust between parents and children.
“Though this is the first time I have heard of this challenge (the skull-breaker), it’s nothing new. My children and I regularly sit down together, and they allow me to check their phones, as there is a relationship based on trust and understanding between us.
“I check what’s happening, their apps and make sure there’s nothing they might be doing that would be against our ethics or our ways,” she added.
Al-Banawi encouraged all parents to discuss with their children the dangers of social media while at the same time highlighting the best and safest ways to use platforms.
A TikTok statement read: "The safety and well-being of our users is a top priority at TikTok. As we make clear in our Community Guidelines, we do not allow content that encourages, promotes or glorifies dangerous challenges that might lead to injury. We will remove any such reported content."