US authorities say TikTok poses a national security threat


  • A 13-year-old boy in Ohio died due to complications brought by antihistamine overdose
  • The teen's father and grandmother warned other parents against unsupervised social media use
  • Johnson & Johnson already warned against using Benadryl for viral TikTok stunts

A 13-year-old boy in Ohio died after he overdosed on over-the-counter antihistamines for a viral TikTok challenge.

Jacob Stevens attempted to do the "Benadryl Challenge," in which participants must take 12 to 14 tablets of antihistamines — six times the recommended dose — to induce hallucinations, the New York Post reported.

A video taken by Stevens' friends showed him taking the medication at his home last weekend and then his body seizing up.

Stevens was immediately taken to a hospital and put on a ventilator, but he died six days later.

Justin Stevens, the victim's father, told ABC 6 about the moment he was informed that his son wouldn't wake up.

"No brain scan, there was nothing there. They said we could keep him on the vent, that he could lay there — but he will never open his eyes, he'll never breathe, smile, walk or talk," Justin said.

Justin warned other parents about the risk of letting children use social media unsupervised.

"Keep an eye at what they're doing on that phone," Stevens' father said. "Talk to them about the situation. I want everyone to know about my son."

Justin urged lawmakers to impose age restrictions on Benadryl and other over-the-counter medication while imploring the popular video-sharing app to implement safeguards.

Dianna Stevens, the teenager's grandmother, also vowed to spread awareness about the dangers of the TikTok stunt.

"I'm going to do anything I can to make sure another child doesn't go through it," Dianna told the local TV news outlet.

This was not the first time someone died after attempting to do the Benadryl Challenge.

In 2020, 15-year-old Chloe Phillips of Oklahoma also died attempting to replicate the viral online stunt.

The incident forced pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Benadryl, to issue a warning, saying that the TikTok trend was "extremely concerning" and "should be stopped immediately."

According to Scott Schaeffer, the director of the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information, taking large doses of Benadryl "can cause seizures, and, particularly, problems with the heart."

Schaeffer added that the heart would not pump blood effectively, which could result in potentially life-threatening issues for the overdosed individual, KFOR reported.

TikTok is a hotbed of other dangerous online challenges, including getting high through temporary asphyxiation, eating candy coated in liquid nitrogen, and drinking a mixture of alcohol, electrolytes, caffeinated flavoring and water.

In a bid to prevent children from accessing potentially hazardous online content, TikTok announced it would implement several measures, including an automatic 60-minute daily screen time limit for all users under 18.

TikTok said that for users under 13 years old, a parent or guardian will be required to set or enter an existing password to allow children an additional 30 minutes of viewing time once they reach the 60-minute limit.

The video-sharing app would also notify teenage users and their parents about their weekly screen time.

TikTok said it consulted several academic research and experts from the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children's Hospital for its new policy aimed at underage users.

However, it doesn't stop lawmakers from scrutinizing the popular online app. Last month, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was grilled in a congressional hearing regarding the app's implications on children's safety and national security.