Young people are taking "bigger risks" to stand out after being "peer pressured" into doing dangerous social media challenges, a digital expert has warned.
Online dares has attracted thousands of kids and teens to conform with their peers, but the consequences have proved "life-threatening".
Harvey Morton has addressed the risks of online challenges in the wake of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee who was found unconscious at home.
READ MORE Mum suing TikTok claims algorithm targeted daughter with fatal blackout challenge
The "born fighter", as described by his mother Hollie Dance, is believed to have taken part in an online challenge in April. It remains unclear what app the trend was seen on.
Medics told his family they believe his brain damage could be so severe that he might be brain stem dead.
His parents have pleaded for a review of the evidence after being warned that his life support could be put to an end.
Sadly, this is one of many tragedies that have been instigated by online challenges, with others being left with severe burns or needing plastic surgery.
Indonesia saw a terrifying month in June, after two teens were reportedly pronounced dead after taking part in the "Angel of Death" challenge, which involves jumping in front of traffic.
A day before the deaths, a 14-year-old shattered his teeth and fractured his skull while doing the challenge, reports Dexerto.
Below we have highlighted some of the most horrific cases involving young people.
Boy relearns how to walk after 'fire challenge' craze
Nick Howell, 12, burned 35 per cent of his body after participating in a TikTok "fire challenge" and has warned other kids "not to be a follower."
The young boy was watching different videos including a teen who doused objects with accelerant and set them alight.
He spotted a lighter and decided to try it.
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"I poured a little bit of rubbing alcohol on the [concrete] floor, lit it and put it out," he recalled. "But I guess the bottle had caught on fire, and it exploded. I started burning."
He was airlifted to hospital where he faced constant visits for six months and endured a total of 50 surgeries. He also had to relearn how to walk due to the damage to the nerves in his leg.
"You shouldn't try everything you see on social media," Nick told People magazine.
While his mother commented: "You think you're vigilant, but that's clearly not enough.
"We have to make our children understand that there are really real-life consequences to these challenges."
Girl accidentally choked herself to death
Antonella Sicomero, 10, was tragically found dead in her bathroom by her four-year-old sister after she attempted to film herself for the "blackout challenge".
Investigators believe she told her parents that she was going in the shower in the family's home in Palermo, Sicily.
“Antonella was playing the game of asphyxiation,” her dad Angelo told La Repubblica.
“My daughter, little Antonella, who dies because of an extreme game on TikTok, how can I accept it?”
According to news agency ANSA, the 10-year-old suffered from a cardiac arrest when she arrived to hospital. She was found with a belt around her neck.
Antonella was in an irreversible coma and declared brain dead by medics. Her parents confirmed her organs were donated before her life support was turned off.
Italy have since ordered TikTok to block the accounts of any users whose age cannot be verified.
TikTok said its Terms of Service highlights that the platform is strictly 13+.
Schoolgirl left needing surgery after '10 seconds of stupidity'
A schoolgirl was left with severe wounds on both of her hands after she took part in an online trend on TikTok.
The 10-year-old "had a lapse of common sense" after she tried the deodorant challenge with her friend during a sleepover.
It involves using deodorant to make your hand feel extremely cold.
Has your child been impacted by an online trend? Contact us at [email protected]
She sprayed it around an inch from her skin for around ten seconds, but the act has left her with an estimated healing time of 18 months to two years.
Her mum told The Mirror: "10 seconds of stupidity has left her with two years of pain.
"I couldn't believe it when I saw her hands, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. She's basically given herself frostbite."
They have been told she might need surgery.
The parent added: "It was such a shock, because she is such a sensible little girl normally, she never gets in trouble, she's not one you need to tell off all the time."
Teen lost skin from half his face after boiling water prank
Kyland Clark, 15, lost his entire skin from his chest, arms and half from his face after following a "hot water challenge".
The teen, of Indianapolis, USA, was watching clips with his friends on YouTube when they came across the trend which sees teens scald themselves with water.
It was reported that his friend did it to him "as a joke" while he was asleep.
But the prank went horribly wrong when the 15-year-old woke up to his skin falling off after suffering from second-degree burns all over his body.
After being hospitalised for one week, he told WLTW: "There's a limit to what you should do in a challenge and what you shouldn't. Don't take it overboard."
'Young people want to be accepted' – expert
Speaking to the Daily Star, Harvey Morton said young people are enduring the risky challenges because they want a "sense of belonging"
He said there are positives to online trends, with brands creating interactive campaigns such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
However, the digital expert noted there is a darker side to the web and referenced the Fire Challenge as an example.
Morton said: "Often those partaking in social media challenges will nominate their friends and those nominated will often feel an excitement and pressure to get involved, resulting in some taking challenges to the next level and taking bigger risks to stand out.
"Social media platforms are facing increased pressure to take down any dangerous challenges to keep their platforms safe, however, with trends moving so fast and such a vast amount of content being uploaded each day, sometimes videos don't get taken down as quickly as they should do.
"I would recommend to all parents and guardians that they enable restricted mode on the TikTok accounts of their children, this can be found in settings under 'digital wellbeing' and should add an additional filter to prevent any unsafe content from being seen."
The expert highlighted that social media websites use algorithms to tailor content to individual's social media feeds based on previous likes and interests.
"If your children are seeing social media challenges on their feeds, it's likely that those they follow have taken part in them," he added.
"It's important that younger audiences know who they are following and keep the number of accounts they're following to a minimum.
"Nick Howell, the 12-year-old boy who took part in the 'fire challenge' and suffered burns to 35% of his body as a result shared an important message to 'don't be a follower' to his audience.
"If the content you are viewing seems unsafe or dangerous, report it to the social media platform immediately and move on."
What social media platforms say
YouTube states its Community Guidelines prohibit content that's intends to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm. 'Extremely dangerous challenges' go against the platforms Harmful and Dangerous Content policies.
TikTok said they have not found evidence that the fire challenge or the blackout challenge is a trend on its platform.
The video sharing app added that when a user types in #BlackOutChallenge or something similar, a message will direct them to its Safety Centre. They said the challenge pre-dates its platform.
A TikTok spokesperson told the Daily Star: "We care deeply about the safety and wellbeing of our community, especially young people. We actively remove content that depicts, promotes or encourages dangerous behaviour or dangerous challenges.
"We re-direct people who search for this type of content to our Safety Centre, where there is an in-app guide for engaging with online challenges, developed with leading youth safety experts."
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