MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Advocates are urging TikTok to improve its parental monitoring features. This comes after a series of children died while attempting a dangerous challenge.
Joshua Haileyesus was like many 12-year-olds. He did chores and would help with family meals. He was also an aspiring actor.READ MORE: ‘Treating Those Immigrants Like Dogs’: North Miami Mayor Sickened By Images Of Border Patrol Agents Using Whips To Corral Haitian Immigrants
His father, Haileyesus Zeryihun, said Joshua was, “Brilliant, smart, funny, outgoing, you know, he’s the light for our house.”
But Haileyesus said that light was lost when his son died this spring. The family believes Joshua choked himself while attempting the blackout challenge on TikTok.
“Right now, it’s very quiet. I don’t even hear any loud noise at home anymore, you know, that is the one that really gets me too,” Haileyesus said, tearing up.
While dangerous games have circulated on social media for years under different names, the blackout challenge has recently been connected to several deaths.
Dalia Hashad with the group ParentsTogether said, “TikTok’s just not a safe place for kids.”
She says while there are some parental settings on the app, it’s not possible to know exactly what videos kids are watching.READ MORE: ‘Such A Demonic Spirit’: 70-Year-Old Man Stabbed In Random Attack At Miramar Plaza
The group has gathered more than 12,000 signatures on a petition requesting TikTok create mirror accounts.
“Which means that kids would be able to log on their device and parents would log onto theirs, and they would be able to see exactly what TikTok is serving their children,” said Hashad explained.
TikTok has not contacted ParentsTogether and declined our interview request.
In a statement, the company said, “TikTok has taken industry-first steps to protect teens and promote age-appropriate experiences, including strong default privacy settings for minors.”
The social media giant also says it blocked content related to inappropriate hashtags or phrases.
Haileyesus said, “I’m sure Joshua, if he knew this was going to kill him, I know he wouldn’t do it.”MORE NEWS: Florida Cabinet Approves 13-Mile Extension Of Dolphin Expressway
He is sharing his son’s story hoping it will save lives. Haileyesus launched a foundation for his son called Joshua Keep Shining.