The father of a 13-year-old boy who died as a result of participating in a recent TikTok challenge is now speaking out, issuing a warning to other parents about the dangers of technology usage for kids and the perception parents might have about social media.
Justin Stevens, the father of the young man who tried the “Benadryl Challenge” sat down for an interview with Fox News not long after burying his own child. This is a pain that no human being should ever have to deal with. No parent should outlive their kids. It’s just plain wrong. And to have one taken away because of something so insidious being passed around social media, especially a Chinese owned platform like TikTok, is enfuriating.
Stevens’ son, according to TheBlaze, was declared to be brain-dead and removed from life support by his family, the father told the news outlet. The challenge involves taking up to six times the recommended dose of the popular allergy medication, which allegedly produces hallucinations.
“He had no idea what he was doing.… He was just a kid. He made a bad decision,” Stevens went on to say during his interview. Stevens then said that his son’s phone use was that of a “lifeline,” denying him access to it when the father attempted to see what was on it.
“Any time that I ever tried to get into his phone, he would just set up the passcode or something … and he would hold to it that he was not letting me into his phone, so then I’d just take the phone,” Stevens went on tell Fox News. “I believe technology today is a downfall. What ever happened to playing with Matchbox cars in the mud pile on the side of the house all day and every day?”
The father then slammed TikTok stating that he assumed the app was kid-friendly and showed content like funny people playing or singing songs. Now, I understand he might feel misled, but to be completely and totally fair here, it’s his responsibility as the parent to know what TikTok is and what kind of stuff is being posted there. It’s his job to protect his child from this sort of content. I don’t say that to be mean, but as conservatives, we believe in personal responsibility, and unfortunate as this situation is, he should never have allowed his child to be on these platforms.
“They sit back and make billions and billions of dollars,” the father said, “and I can’t even wake up and say hello to my kid any more, you know?”
“Dianna Stevens, the boy’s grandmother, previously told Fox News that the teenager started spending more and more time on his phone and was very ‘curious.’ She said that he spent increasing amounts of time watching videos on YouTube and TikTok, as well,” TheBlaze reported.
A spokesperson who works for TikTok released a statement saying that the social media platform’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 went on to say.
The spokesperson then said that the app does not “permit users to share content depicting, promoting, normalizing or glorifying dangerous acts that may lead to serious injury or death.”
“I’ve said it over and over and over. As parents, we live in a fast-paced environment. Everybody is moving a hundred miles an hour. I would just say slow down. Once they’re gone, they’re gone,” Stevens said.
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