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Borax craze: TikTok is the social media platform parents are most worried about

The potential for the video to go viral can negatively impact a child’s mental health.

Image: - © AFP Kazuhiro NOGI
Image: - © AFP Kazuhiro NOGI

A worrying trend known as jumping on the ‘borax train’ has swept over TikTok recently and this has participants consuming the laundry-boosting product. Some content creators have been advocating this trend on TikTok.

The most suspect promoters of the trend claim that borax, or sodium borate (a combination of boron, sodium, and oxygen), can treat inflammation, stress, joint pain, and cancer. Instead, consuming the chemical presents a physical health risk. The chemical is not used in the European Union or in the UK, based on studies that show negative impacts on reproductive health.

Furthermore, the associated peer pressure to complete these challenges, the possibility of offensive comments being made, and the potential for the video to go viral can each negatively impact a child’s mental health.

The developers of AI digital family safety app, Canopy.us, have explained to Digital Journal what dangers threaten kids using TikTok and the safety precautions parents can take to protect them.

Canopy.us analysed search volume data by inputting the phrase ‘Is [insert social media platform] safe?’. In doing this, the social media platform that was found to be most worrying was revealed. TikTok was by far the winner, with an estimated 8,900 monthly global searches for ‘Is TikTok safe?’, over half of these coming from the US alone.

These data suggests a continuing concern for user safety on the platform.

PhraseGlobal Search VolumeUS Search Volume
Is TikTok safe8,9005,100
Is Snapchat safe6,0002,300
Is Reddit safe4,0002,000
Is Instagram safe2,7001,000
Is Twitter safe800300
Is Facebook safe500250
Is YouTube safe500200
Is Twitch safe400150

TikTok can be addictive. The app offers infinite scrolling with never-ending content. TikTok learns from the users’ habits, through its algorithm, and continually creates a personalized experience that will only get more and more enjoyable. A Tech Crunch study revealed young people aged four to 15 spend 80 minutes on TikTok daily (this equates to nine hours per week, 486 hours per year, and 20 days per year).

There have been countless TikTok challenges that have spread across the platform, some of these taking the lives of children. An infamous trend known as the ‘Benadryl challenge’ resulted in the death of a 15-year-old girl who consumed excessive amounts of the allergy medication. Parents may benefit from keeping up to date with any recent trends to look out for signs of their own children’s attempts.

The current borax trend sweeping over the platform is influencing users to treat various ailments by consuming laundry-boosting borax. Consuming borax may cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and kidney failure. Keeping household products out of reach of children is a good place to start for prevention.

TikTok does have a so-termed Family Safety Mode and Screentime Management. Through the Family Safety Mode, parents can determine how long each day a kid can spend on TikTok; with whom they can communicate in direct messages; and the option for restricted mode and discoverability settings to be activated.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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