10-Year-Old Girl Dies While Attempting TikTok’s Dangerous ‘Blackout Challenge’

Photo: GoFundMe // Dragana Gordic/Shutterstock
Left: Nyla Anderson smiling. Right: close up of browsing social media on smart phone.

A 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl died after attempting a social media challenge known as the “Blackout Challenge” where users hold their breath as long as they can, often until falling unconscious.

On Dec. 12, Nyla Anderson was reportedly found passed out in her room, so she was immediately rushed to Nemours Children's Hospital.

Tragically, however, the young girl did not survive the incident but instead died the same day, according to her obituary.

While Nyla Anderson may have been the most recent death from the “Blackout Challenge,” she is, unfortunately, not nearly the first.

Many more children in the past have died attempting the same thing, probably not understanding just how dangerous the challenge could truly be until it was too late, much like in Nyla’s case.

What is the ‘Blackout Challenge’ on TikTok?

The basic idea of the “Blackout Challenge” is that the person posting it is supposed to hold their breath for as long as they possibly can — often until they pass out.

In fact, it seems like passing out is often the end goal of the challenge, considering the name “Blackout Challenge” — not to mention that an older form of the social media challenge was known as the “Pass-Out Challenge.”

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A challenge like this is extremely risky because “it can result in a strangulation,” said Dr. Mindy Dickerman, Associate Division Chief for the Pediatric Critical Care Division at the hospital that treated Nyla.

She continued, explaining, “It can cause significant organ damage, including brain damage, even death.”

Where did the 'Blackout Challenge' come from?

This risky challenge, while now popular on TikTok, predates the app considerably; in fact, many believe that the “Blackout Challenge” did not first come into existence on social media at all..

Some people see this challenge as an evolution of the “Choking Game,” which, according to the CDC, had killed at least 82 children by 2008, well before many of our modern social media sites became popular.

The game is nearly identical to the “Blackout Challenge,” except that the later is posted to social media instead of simply played either with friends or alone.

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This game as a social media trend could lead to even higher risk of death than the original “Choking Game,” as it may be more likely to performed alone, with the intention to post, as opposed to having others around watching you in real time.

According to the CDC, “most of the deaths occurred when a child engaged in the choking game alone.”

The Andersons hope that Nyla’s death can deter people from trying the 'Blackout Challenge.'

Nyla’s mother spoke to the local Philadelphia branch of ABC news, WPVI, with her story.

She said of her lost daughter Nyla, “She was a butterfly. She was everything. She was a happy child.”

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She also urges other parents to understand just how unexpected this was, stressing that her child was good and smart, and it happened within her own home, with the family home.

Even though there were people home, “no one was in the bedroom with her when this happened, so there was no one there to save her,” said licensed clinical social worker Elizabeth Wood about the incident.

Nyla’s mother, Tawainna Anderson, said, "Make sure you check your kids' phones. You never know what you might find on their phones. You wouldn't think 10-year-olds would try this. They're trying because they're kids and they don't know better."

The CDC asserts that it is necessary to explain the possibly life-threatening dangers of playing such games — or participating in such challenges — to a child.

Nyla’s mother and the CDC alike warn that parents should play close attention for signs of such dangerous games or challenges.

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Amanda Hartmann is a writer and editorial intern at YourTango who writes on various topics such as news and Entertainment.