TikTok is becoming one of the most popular social media apps for young people in the United States. But Omaha Fire Department official Verrell Gordon warns that the app is inspiring some very dangerous and antisocial trends. These are TikTok videos (which usually last less than a minute) showing young people deliberately starting fires in homes, abandoned buildings, and out in the wild. One popular TikTok hashtag is called ‘outlet challenge,’ and shows teenagers deliberately causing short circuits that spark and flare, which, according to Gordon, could lead to a serious conflagration in a matter of minutes.
Fire departments across the country are warning parents to monitor their children’s use of the TikTok app, and to confront any suspicious behavior their teenagers may exhibit, such as collecting greasy rags or storing gasoline in detergent bottles.
Child psychology experts are saying that this disturbing trend may be related to a rise in pyromania in teenagers, which has been recorded during the past ten years. Psychologists theorize that pyromania, the obsession with matches and burning things, may arise from too much anxiety and stress, and is a coping mechanism for young people who feel that they have no control over their own lives, or are unreasonably frightened by violent and disturbing events at their school or in their own homes.