Investigation by the NRW State Media AuthorityChallenge Accepted: How widespread TikTok challenges are among children

Why are TikTok challenges so popular with children and young people? And what effect do negative challenge videos have on them? The Media Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia is investigating these questions in a recent study. More than 750 TikTok users between the ages of 10 and 16 were surveyed and around 2500 TikTok videos were analyzed. The content analysis shows that the majority of videos in circulation are harmless dance or singing challenges. However, around a third of the videos contain potentially harmful challenges and 1% even contain potentially deadly challenges.

The content analysis of around 2,500 TikToks also shows that videos with negative content do not necessarily achieve a higher reach than other videos. TikTok regulates harmful content by blocking both the challenges and related search terms. However, if a harmful video is not regulated by TikTok early enough or sufficiently, the platform's algorithm allows challenges to spread widely within a few weeks. This is because challenges of all kinds are very popular with children and young people. However, it remains completely unclear what criteria TikTok uses to regulate challenges, add warnings or even delete them. There is a lack of transparency here.

More than half of underage users also come across disturbing content

The survey of around 750 children and young people revealed that the majority of them prefer comedy videos on TikTok. Nevertheless, over 60 percent of those surveyed also encountered content on TikTok that made them feel uncomfortable. Almost 10 percent of them even encounter this content on a daily basis. This includes older and very dangerous challenges such as the "Momo Challenge". Despite strict TikTok regulation, more than 20 percent of children and young people are aware of this challenge. The study also provides a possible explanation for this: Children and young people learn about these challenges not only via TikTok, but also through traditional media, for example. It is therefore advisable not to report on potentially dangerous and deadly challenges at all or only with categorization. 40% of the young people surveyed would also like to see an independent reporting office for disturbing videos. This shows that existing reporting centers such as and are still too little known among the respondents.

How can we protect children and young people? - Tips from klicksafe

  • Stay in regular contact with children and young people to find out which tests of courage are currently in vogue.
  • Discuss the fact that there are also many fakes circulating among risky challenges. Encourage children and young people to critically question the actions shown.
  • Encourage children and young people not to put themselves and others in danger and not to give in to peer pressure when challenged.
  • Communicate that spreading dangerous challenges  canput others at risk.
  • Inform other parents and the class teacher if dangerous challenges are circulating among friends or at school.
  • Self-endangering internet challenges should be reported to or and the relevant online platform(e.g. TikTok).
  • Do not warn by posting or sharing the dangerous challenges. This can lead to the challenges being spread further.
  • Do not condemn challenges across the board and help interested children and young people to find safe challenges.

For educators

Would you like to discuss the topic of challenges and pranks with your students? No problem: Our materials not only provide you with specialist information on the topic, but also ready-made lesson plans that you can use immediately. These are accompanying materials for the Kosmos YouTube handbook. However, the two teaching units can easily be used independently.