What Every Parent Needs to Know About the TikTok “Skull Breaker Challenge”
TikTok, a fast-growing video-sharing app claims its mission is to “capture and present the world’s creativity, knowledge, and precious life moments.” But that doesn’t accurately describe what’s trending lately on the app—a prank that’s been dubbed the “Skull Breaker Challenge.”
In this potentially lethal game, two people stand on either side of a third person and trick them into jumping up in the air. But as the unsuspecting middle person hops up, the two outside people kick the back of the airborne person’s legs, knocking them on their butt, back, or skull.
A pair of students in Daytona, Florida, who pulled the prank on another student are facing misdemeanor charges of battery and cyberbullying, according to a report by Today.
Parents are being encouraged to talk to their children about the dangers of the prank because it could cause broken bones, neck or back injuries, or concussions. It’s admirable that the media is getting the word out about this trending challenge, but most of the coverages neglect to inform parents about the very real and lasting harm that can come from a head injury in early life.
6 Reasons Why Concussions in Youngsters are So Devastating
Parents may not be aware that the consequences of a head injury at a young age—in childhood or adolescence—can ruin a young person’s life. Here are 6 ways that traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) impact cognitive, psychological, and behavioral health.
1. School problems
Head trauma can impair cognitive function that leads to school problems. Young people with head injuries are more likely to have trouble with attention, problem-solving, planning, and memory. A study in the journal Pediatrics on children ages 6-13 found that those who had suffered TBIs had higher rates of attention lapses and behavior problems as well as lower intelligence ratings. These issues can impact a young person’s ability to succeed in the classroom and beyond, which can have lasting effects on self-esteem and prevent them from living up to their potential.
2. Mental health disorders
Head injuries are a major cause of mental illness, but few people—even healthcare professionals—know it. A wealth of research has shown that young people who have suffered a head injury are at increased risk of ADD/ADHD, depression, anxiety, aggression, personality disorders, and psychosis. Sadly, many people never make the connection between a head injury that happened years or decades earlier and symptoms of depression or another psychiatric disorder. This can lead to years of unnecessary suffering.
3. Drug and alcohol addiction
Experiencing head trauma as a youth raises the risk of developing a substance abuse problem. Why? Research on animals has found that head injuries cause changes to synapses and neuronal networks with the brain’s reward system. The reward system’s pathways are still under development in childhood and adolescence, and a 2019 study suggests that TBI in early life disrupts the maturation process of this network. Having an increased vulnerability to addictions can ruin a young person’s life as well as the lives of loved ones.
4. Hormonal imbalances
When a head injury causes the brain to ricochet within the skull, it often damages a vulnerable area called the pituitary gland, a pea-sized gland that plays a major role in hormone production. However, pituitary dysfunction following a TBI is potentially underreported, according to a 2017 study. When hormones are off-balance it can alter the way you think, feel, and behave, causing a variety of symptoms, such as fatigue, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, or brain fog. This all leads to a lower quality of life.
Most people worry about the immediate consequences of a concussion, but few understand that its devastating effects can also be felt decades later. Research in the Archives of Neurology shows that moderate to severe TBIs in early life have been linked to a twofold to fourfold increase in the risk of dementia later in life.
6. Suicidal thoughts and behavior
One of the most devastating consequences of a TBI is an increased risk of suicide. A 2020 study in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that concussions in youth are associated with a greater chance of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.
Because of the tremendous impact a head injury can have on a young person’s life, it is critical for parents to talk about the dangerous Skull Breaker Challenge and to monitor children’s internet usage appropriately.
At Amen Clinics, we have helped thousands of children and adults with concussions or TBIs to heal their brain and minimize their symptoms. We use a combination of the least toxic, most effective therapies, which may include neurofeedback, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), nutraceuticals, and medications, as well as simple lifestyle changes that can make a big difference.
If you experienced a head injury in your youth, or if your child has suffered head trauma, Amen Clinics can help. Speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.