Nyla Anderson, a 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl, has died, and her family blames a dangerous TikTok trend known as the “blackout challenge.” 

The dare reportedly encourages users to record a video while choking themselves until they pass out from lack of oxygen. While the “game” existed long before modern social media, it has gained traction on video platform TikTok in recent months. Nyla is the fifth child who has reportedly died while participating in the trend in 2021.  

“Make sure you check your kids’ phones,” Tawainna Anderson, Nyla’s mom, told reporters

“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.”

Family: Nyla Anderson Died From TikTok Trend

According to ABC 7, Nyla was home with her family when she allegedly tried to take part in the “blackout challenge” in her room. Loved ones found the 10-year-old unconscious and rushed her to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead. 

“She happened to be in her own bedroom of her house, with her family at home,” said the hospital’s social worker, Elizabeth Wood. ”But no one was in the bedroom with her when this happened, so there was no one there to save her.”

Nyla’s family said they’re overwhelmed with grief by the sudden loss. 

“I’m so hurt,” her mother said. “This is a pain that won’t go away. It’s at the top of my throat. I am so hurt.”

“She was a butterfly,” Tawainna added. “She was everything. She was a happy child.”

Nyla Anderson of Chester, Pennsylvania died at 10 years old, after her mom said she was attempting the 'blackout challenge' she saw on TikTok. The 'challenge' encourages users to choke themselves until they pass out.
Nyla Anderson of Chester, Pennsylvania died at 10 years old, after her mom said she was attempting the ‘blackout challenge’ she saw on TikTok. The ‘challenge’ encourages users to choke themselves until they pass out. Photo credit: Legacy.com

According to media reports, Nyla is the fifth child this year to die while allegedly participating in the online trend. 

A 12-year-old boy in Oklahoma was discovered unconscious with “marks on his neck” in July. He died hours later, police said. 

In June, a 9-year-old Tennessee boy died in a hospital after family members found him unresponsive in his bedroom with a belt tied around his neck.

In March, a 12-year-old Colorado boy died after spending 19 days in a coma. His family said they found him passed out in the bathroom with a shoelace tied around his windpipe.  

A 10-year-old Italian girl was found by her little sister unconscious in the family bathroom in January, with her cellphone on the floor nearby. Doctors declared her brain dead when she arrived at the hospital, and the family said they planned to remove her from life support. 

In each case, family members and authorities claimed the children were taking part in the “blackout challenge” they learned about on TikTok. 

TikTok Responds to Dangerous Trend

Spokespeople for TikTok told the New York Post Wednesday that the company is working to remove “blackout challenge” videos from its platform entirely. 

“This disturbing ‘challenge,’ which people seem to learn about from sources other than TikTok, long predates our platform and has never been a TikTok trend,” the company said in a statement. 

“We remain vigilant in our commitment to user safety and would immediately remove related content if found. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family for their tragic loss.”

Videos posted under the hashtag “#blackoutchallenge” have long since been removed, and users are encouraged to report such posts to platform moderators, the company noted. 

Today, a search for “blackout challenge” content on the app turns up no results, and a warning message is displayed.

TikTok users who search for the 'blackout challenge' are now met with this warning message. Nyla Anderson, 10, died recently while attempting the 'challenge,' her family said.
TikTok users who search for the ‘blackout challenge’ are now met with this warning message. Nyla Anderson, 10, died recently while attempting the ‘challenge,’ her family said. Photo credit: TikTok

Does the Blackout Challenge Predate TikTok? 

It’s true that the basic premise of the “challenge” — to choke oneself to the point of unconsciousness — has been attempted by some American children since the 1990s.

The “challenge,” previously called the “choking game” or the “fainting game,” became a cause of concern for parents in 2006, after a public health survey in Ohio found that 19 percent of students ages 17 and 18 said they’d “played” at some point. 

The outroar prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a study in 2008 on choking-game-related deaths among Americans aged 20 and below. The agency found that, between 1995 and 2007, 82 American teens had suffered “probable choking-game deaths.” 

“Players” in those days didn’t record themselves blacking out, but reportedly engaged in the “game” to experience a “brief euphoric state” caused by lack of oxygen to the brain, also called hypoxia, the CDC wrote. Medical authorities have noted that hypoxia can cause cardiac arrest, brain damage, and organ failure.