There are plenty of totally harmless TikTok trends, but there are also a few that are truly dangerous. The TikTok magnet trend falls into that second category and has already landed some children in the hospital. Now, as the trend makes headlines because of its potential dangers, many want to know more about what exactly it is.
What is the TikTok magnet trend?
The magnet trend involves placing small, round magnets on both sides of your tongue to make it look like you've gotten your tongue pierced. Some have also done the same thing with their nose to make it seem like they've gotten their nose pierced. The challenge is dangerous because it's not hard to accidentally swallow one of the magnets, which can then wreak havoc on your internal organs.
The magnet trend is one of the most dangerous trends to emerge from TikTok.
Recently, there have been several reports of fairly young children getting admitted to the hospital after they swallowed one or more magnets. One nine-year-old boy, Jack Mason, went through intensive surgery at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow and had to have his appendix, as well as parts of his small and large intestines removed.
In speaking with the BBC, Jack's mother Carolann McGeogh said she was told that her son's problems were severe.
"It was explained to me that the damage these magnets can cause could be so extreme that he might not pull through," she said. "Through floods of tears I then had to sign my permission to the operation, acknowledging that 'anything could happen,'"
"Jack is lucky to be alive," she continued. "If his experience can prevent other kids from enduring the same, then I will do everything I can to do that."
In Britain, 65 children have been admitted to the hospital in the past three years for swallowing magnets, and it's possible that the magnet trend is only accelerating those figures.
Swallowing magnets of any size can become life-threatening.
Sky News reports that magnets can become "forced together in the intestines or bowels, squeezing the tissue and cutting off the blood supply." Britain's National Health Service has also been warning parents about the dangers of magnetic balls for years.
In speaking with the BBC, a spokeswoman for TikTok said that the company is always monitoring for videos that could cause harm to other users. "We do not allow content that encourages, promotes, or glorifies behavior that might lead to injury," the spokeswoman said. "Our safety team uses a range of measures to keep our community safe, and we have been conducting additional proactive searches to detect content of this nature."
Although children clearly swallowed magnets long before they saw people putting them on their tongues on TikTok, that doesn't necessarily mean that the TikTok trend isn't harmful. Any time users encourage one another to do something that's potentially dangerous, the platform should step in to prevent anyone from getting seriously injured or winding up in the hospital.