Family claims social media challenge led to death of 9-year-old boy from Tennessee | KAMR
MEMPHIS, Tennessee (WREG) – A family mourned the death of a 9-year-old boy on Friday, and they believe a social media challenge led to an abnormal crash that resulted in his death.
LaTerius Smith Jr.’s family, who were called TJ by family, remembers how talkative and outgoing he was. But instead of looking forward to a busy summer, his loved ones were planning his funeral.
“Seeing this baby lying in that coffin, hasn’t even had a chance to grow up,” said LaTerius’ great aunt, Barbara Williams. “You know his life ended because of some people who put stupid things on various sites.”
LaTerius was discovered unconscious in his bedroom last week. The family say they found him with a belt around his neck and rushed him to hospital. He did not survive.
“It wasn’t until later that we found out that there was a type of video on TikTok, you know, letting kids know… how to choke,” Williams said. “But we have to get out of it, the challenge was to get out. But he’s 9, he’s 9, so how was he going to get by?
Over the past few years, across the country, various social media trends like “the fainting challenge” or choking games have been blamed for the deaths of young people.
Laterius’ family doesn’t want others to go through the pain they feel.
Their message to parents this summer, when the kids have even more free time, is to watch everything. They encourage parents to block various social media sites and learn about what might be hiding behind children’s screens.
“I know you can’t watch them 24 hours a day, but what you can do is just save a life,” Williams said.
A spokesperson for TikTok said these challenges have been banned from their site. View more from the social media platform resources for parents and guardians.