Who Is to Blame for the Child Deaths Associated With TikTok Challenges?

social media Who Is to Blame for the Child Deaths Associated With TikTok Challenges?

Grim yet shocking headlines such as the death of two girls aged eight and nine associated with a social media (TikTok) challenge have been brought up in recent news articles. While these two girls may not be the first or last to succumb to these TikTok challenges, it has raised questions about who we need to blame for this problem. Should we blame the algorithms for pushing this content to children? Should we blame the people who created this content? Or should we blame the parents? Who audits TikTok’s algorithms? Who monitors how our children use technology? Is it perhaps time for us to start auditing these algorithms and demand accountability from those who control what our children see online? Do we need to take back control of these platforms so we don’t continue seeing stories like this?

Bringing a new life into this world is always met with excitement. Yet every single one of these happy moments comes at a cost. I know many parents who go to great lengths to survey their home before bringing a baby into it to see what dangers could be present for children—natural or otherwise. Some buy pool covers to keep them safe from accidental drowning; mount cabinet locks high enough that they can’t easily reach them; install window locks where they won’t slip through if left open unattended (quite unlike my old habit). I’m sure you’ve done similar things too! It seems modern technology has posed yet another danger to our children. How do we protect children from the dangers that lurk behind every click?

A social media account that causes problems

I first learned about the Blackout Challenge two days ago, but after researching I found evidence dating back years ago. Many children have died or have been hospitalized because of these blackout challenges! But when will we say enough is enough? How many more deaths will there need to be before action is taken, before these platforms start taking responsibility for their actions? Is society at fault for not holding these social media platforms accountable in a way that would put an end to the deaths of so many young children?

I know TikTok, in the past, has denied any responsibility for such deaths. I wonder if they will take responsibility now. How can TikTok algorithms continue to send such dangerous content to children? Are they simply missing this, or is it intentional recklessness on the part of TikTok? So why don’t they just find a way to monitor harmful content or at least have a filter to block it out entirely? These sites are already thriving off of these heinous posts, which is revolting! Yet, some controversial posts would get removed in a flash if somebody commented, “This isn’t nice!” What logic.

I think that a lot of the problems that we have seen with social media can be blamed on the fact that there is no accountability. Anyone can create an account and say whatever they want without any repercussions. This lack of accountability has led to the proliferation of such harmful content.

The problem is who controls what people see.

As a parent, I find it very frightening how social media can lead my child astray. So, each time we allow our children to use social media, they are practically one click away from risking their lives. It scares me even more because these big corporations do nothing but reward content that goes viral. After all, these sites make billions from advertising dollars every year, so they have a vested interest in making sure people see content.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that we can’t trust social media platforms to police themselves. That’s why it’s more important than ever for parents to be aware of what their children are doing online. The responsibility falls on us as parents to know how our kids use social media and to monitor them if necessary. As a parent, it is important to be aware of the apps your children are using and what type of content is being consumed. With TikTok being one of the most popular apps among kids, it is important to monitor their activity on the app. It is also important to talk to your kids about online safety and responsible social media use. Parents should do their research and make sure they have parental controls enabled if they want to restrict the types of videos that their children see.

Should we perhaps ban TikTok?

I don’t think that banning TikTok is the answer. We need to figure out how to make it safer for children to use. I also think that some sort of parental filter needs to be put in place so kids won’t get sucked into these dangerous games. I believe we need to continue monitoring how our children use technology because, even though TikTok has disabled the blackout challenge, there will always be new ways for kids to get themselves into trouble.

What are your thoughts?

Who is to blame? Should an 8-year-old child be on TikTok? What should parents do about TikTok? If there was a way to monitor your children while they’re using TikTok or other social media sites, would you do it?

About Maria Mac Andrew

I am a writer, social impact entrepreneur and I advocate for AI Ethics, diversity and Inclusion as well as equal access to AI technologies. I am the current COO of Adashe and Also COO and co-founder of AI ethics world.

Do take a look at my other blogs here

Follow me on LinkedIn

Want to pursue a career in artificial intelligence?Take a look at these courses here.

How to Future-Proof Your Career Against Automation and AI

Automation and the future of work

Something we’ve been hearing more about is concerns about automation and artificial intelligence taking over jobs. It seems that, one way or another, robots are coming to take your job, and there’s nothing you can do about it? But this isn’t necessarily true. In this article, I will share some tips on how to future-proof your career against automation and AI.

Whenever I hear the word automation, memories from my days as a massage therapist come rushing back. Newly married, building a home while providing for my family and siblings, this job was necessary. One day, the company brought in a massaging chair—an electronic device that mimicked hands moving across muscles—we were all ecstatic!

My passion vanished almost immediately when one of my clients had enjoyed themselves so much while using the chair.

He proclaimed to me, “Maria, you’re useless. You’ve been replaced by a chair. “

We both laughed, but his words pierced through every inch of my being. I couldn’t shake off how right he had been. What does this mean for me? What did this mean for my family, who relied on me financially? Not only did this mean my services were less valuable than before. But it also meant I’d let down the rest of my family too. Without me, they wouldn’t be able to provide for themselves or even put food on the table. That tore me apart.

Finding my way of dealing with being replaced by a machine

Being a problem solver from the time I was seven years old, it didn’t take me long to jump into solution mode. As opposed to worrying about losing my job, I focused on ways of making myself more valuable. Considering the tasks that were being performed by the tool, it became clear where my strengths lay. I had a realization of how tired the repetitive motions of giving massages made me. While it meant that people were less tense and feeling better, it wore me out beyond words. I started looking at the advantages this machine provided and then added my human touch to complement it. With more time on my hands, I found that there were always new ways to make people happy—whether they wanted someone to chat with while getting their hair done or someone who wanted a relaxing head massage while having their nails done.

As time went on, I explored other ways to automate less enjoyable tasks like booking appointments and sending follow-ups. This greatly increased our efficiency and made the organization very profitable. I became an essential asset to the company, which led me to become a co-owner. I went on to open and run two spas that combined old-school treatments with newer, innovative technologies.


Should you be worried about machines taking over your job?

In its simplest form, automation is the use of machines to do tasks that have traditionally been done by human beings. This can range from something as small as using a dishwasher to clean your dishes, to large-scale industrial processes that use robots to assemble products. I am aware that many people worry about whether or not their jobs will still exist in this era of automation. However, automating certain aspects of life has been going on since the dawn of technological times, and we loved it! Think back to the days when you mowed your own lawn before you got an automatic lawnmower! Nowadays, most people would rather let someone else take care of it. So, automating or replacing certain tasks may seem like nothing new after all, except that this time we are talking about our work instead of just cleaning up.

Job safety is one of the key concerns when it comes to automation and AI in the workplace. After all, if machines could do our jobs faster and cheaper, why wouldn’t companies want to replace us? Of course, many low-skill jobs are at risk of being replaced by machines or AI soon. It is understandable why some people are concerned. However, there are some things you can do to future-proof your career against automation.


Steps on how to future-proof your career against automation and AI

  • Firstly, focus on developing skills that are difficult to automate, such as creativity, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence.

  • Think about what other skills you could develop or learn that would greatly enhance your career. Developing new skills not only gives you new abilities but will help keep you competitive in a changing market. If nothing else, having multiple skill sets ensures that no matter what happens in the workplace, you’ll be able to adapt.

  • Be flexible and open-minded and be prepared to adapt to change and learn new skills as the workplace evolves.

  • Looking for ways to add value beyond your job description is an easy way to stay ahead of the curve.

  • Stay up-to-date with the latest technology trends. The best way to prepare yourself for a future where automation and AI have taken over is by being proactive!

Finally, avoid getting caught up in nostalgia for a world without automation. With sufficient planning and forward-thinking, it is possible to maintain a fulfilling and prosperous career into the foreseeable future. Plus, in many cases, there are things about human labor that automation just can’t replace, like empathy and creativity. These qualities should be leveraged with everything we’ve got if we’re going to compete with computers.

Thank you for reading. Do you have any additional advice on how to future-proof your career against automation and AI? Do you have concerns or any thoughts? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.  I would love to hear what you think.


About Maria Mac Andrew

I am a writer, social impact entrepreneur and I advocate for AI Ethics, diversity and Inclusion as well as equal access to AI technologies. I am the current COO of Adashe and Also COO and co-founder of AI ethics world.

Do take a look at my other blogs here

Follow me on LinkedIn

Want to pursue a career in artificial intelligence? Take a look at these courses.

Diversity and Inclusion in AI Development Teams

Maria Mac Andrew's blog on diversity and inclusion in the workplace

According to McKinsey, companies that are gender diverse are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Companies with ethnically diverse workforces experienced 35% higher returns than other companies in their respective industries. And according to researchers at Bain & Company, Fortune 100 companies with three or more women on their board had a 21 percent higher return on equity than other corporations.

It is essential to recognize that artificial intelligence will have an increasingly important role in global business. As AI systems grow more sophisticated, they can handle increasingly complex tasks—everything from basic data collection and pattern analysis to more advanced processes like market forecasting. However, there are some things computers just can’t do as well as humans yet. And one of those things is to deal with ethics. While we might hope our machines would operate ethically at all times, we know full well they don’t – and so does everyone else.

AI can potentially change the face of business as we know it, and those changes will occur in our top leadership positions first. That’s why diversity and inclusion should be at the forefront of every company’s strategic plan for AI adoption and implementation moving forward. AI ethics discussions need to include diverse leadership perspectives and voices to ensure that diverse and inclusive voices are heard and considered in forming ethical AI guidelines and best practices. So if you want your business to stay ahead of AI as its capabilities expand, start by ensuring you have diverse leaders at every level.

It’s no surprise that investors are seeking diversity in leadership roles. But why? What is it about diverse leadership teams that correlate to better company performance? The reasons may be surprising. It turns out there’s more to diversity than meets the eye.

First, creating an inclusive culture where everyone feels comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work each day allows employees to bring different perspectives on problem-solving. While perspectives are often regarded as something positive, it’s also important not to mistake multiple perspectives for differing viewpoints. Multiple perspectives are valuable because they mean people share different experiences based on variables like age, education level, social class background, etc. In contrast, differing viewpoints suggest that people genuinely think differently. Different backgrounds give people an informed take when brainstorming solutions.

Diversity is a risk-mitigation strategy. By cultivating unique perspectives from different groups, companies can improve decision-making across their business at large.

 Additionally, socialization into varying cultures makes room for understanding and appreciation of different ways to do things. Because we interact primarily with those who look like us or hold similar opinions (for good reason), we tend to approach tasks and experiences very similarly. This can negatively impact our ability to achieve goals because we fail to identify alternate paths toward solutions – ultimately limiting our innovation potential. We often become blinded by our own behaviors — even when they inhibit progress — before we even realize what’s happening.

For example, a woman may steer away from innovation suggestions simply because she didn’t recognize her male peers’ ideas were innovative. She’ll question whether she’s being too critical of their ideas without realizing that feedback plays a crucial role in developing new concepts. Or someone who grew up thinking women shouldn’t lead will struggle to find any value-add he receives from female leaders, regardless of what he says publicly. Such biases are hard to overcome unless all types of people are present within any given organization. That way, individual characteristics can provide benefits rather than hindrances, leading organizations to greater success over time.

Finally, with AI systems making decisions that impact our lives—such as who to hire, who to detain, who gets insurance benefits—we need diverse people creating them. This isn’t because there is a bias against minorities or women in algorithms, but rather because we have limited data on minority populations. Put another way: When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And if AI development follows its current path, society will end up with only one tool at its disposal for complex problems. Even if AI does learn from diversity, it can take several years for AI technologies to mature from concept to implementation across an organization. In other words, change will not happen overnight—but now is definitely the time to think about it.

 Fostering an open, forward-thinking environment that embraces diversity and inclusion begins with looking critically at your hiring process. If it’s culturally biased, your entire team is going to skew in one direction. Part of promoting diversity and inclusion involves making sure that hiring managers are aware of their own biases. It’s easy to say this person has a great attitude or they would really fit in here, but it may reflect different cultural attributes that actually make them ill-suited for success.

You need to separate perception from reality – not just how others see you but also how you see yourself. It sounds simple, but it takes work to get past these assumptions. And once hires are made, research shows that failing to acknowledge different viewpoints hinders progress. It’s not enough to hire a diverse group of people. Real progress requires accepting diversity and actively encouraging it through socialization opportunities, sponsorships, and executive-level commitment.

Diversity isn’t a goal or an end in itself. It’s simply an avenue to innovation and success that we ignore at our own peril. Not only that, but it’s the right thing to do.

Hiring diverse teams is one of the steps we can take to recognize and eliminate AI bias. According to a study done by researchers at Stanford University, Google, and New York University, commercial datasets used for machine learning often reflect the prejudices and preferences of their designers. These biases come from language and accents: if a person is not American or speaks with an accent, then their voice will likely be left out. Even search algorithms discriminate against women because they tend to ask questions that require shorter answers, favoring white men who have more spare time on their hands to do research. In addition, women’s queries tend to contain superlatives such as best and greatest, which also feed into these algorithms.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has already changed how we live, work, and play. But AI can also be used to drive diversity efforts, helping make room for more women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals—and other historically underrepresented groups—in top leadership positions.

Some AI tools make it possible for organizations to vet candidates based on set criteria such as age, education level, professional experience, skills, etc. Using these tools leaves less room for unconscious bias or discrimination against candidates based on factors like gender or ethnicity. Hiring managers can review AI-vetted candidates side by side with traditional resumes so they can base hiring decisions on fit and skills rather than name or looks. Employers looking to improve diversity and inclusion in hiring—or promote diverse employees within existing teams—can integrate such tools into existing HR systems and processes so everyone benefits from AI technology right away.

Diversity is not just a feel-good talking point; it’s proven to improve businesses by making them smarter, more innovative, better run—and more profitable. This means any company that wants to succeed should embrace diversity and inclusion as core values: The winners will be those who find ways to maximize their talent and truly reflect their customers.

It is critical that organizations define their vision for how AI fits into their long-term strategy. But more importantly, they must also explicitly state how they want their AI ethics to guide them today.

Maria Mac Andrew is the head of Diversity and Communities at AI Ethics world and the Co-Founder of a Global Ethical AI Foundation.

At AI ethics World, we help businesses and communities tackle these big questions by introducing our expertise in diversity leadership strategies and training our clients to apply AI ethics into practice.

Centuries Long Systematic Oppression on Minorities

Maria Mac Andrew's blog on diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Most people are aware of the overt forms of discrimination, such as racism, sexism, and homophobia, but few are aware of the less obvious forms that have been around since the 1800s. These ways in which minorities are treated differently have been occurring since before you were born! Here are just a few examples of how discrimination against minorities has been going on for over 100 years!

Our education system still bears much blame for systematic oppression against minorities. For decades now, there have been debates surrounding whether children should learn about slavery in schools—as if it happened so long ago that we couldn’t learn anything about how things are shaping up today.

Our colonial history has left its mark on all areas of society today. One historical example demonstrating how damaging our past behavior can be on present systems is New York’s redlining law established in 1933. Redlining laws served as rules restricting banks’ lending activities mainly to white customers with houses inside red lines drawn around certain areas where new housing construction was actively discouraged or prohibited by state or local governments through zoning laws or other regulations designed to keep neighborhoods segregated according to race. The practice began in earnest in 1933 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Home Owners’ Loan Corporation drew up new residential security maps for cities and metropolitan areas across America that delineated urban risk zones based on neighborhood racial composition. That meant even if a black family managed to buy a home outside these newly-drawn boundaries, they could not get a mortgage or business loan from any bank within them because many financial institutions adopted these practices. People of color were systematically excluded from many federal housing programs in favor of white households.

Redlining persisted until President Lyndon B. Johnson passed his Fair Housing Act in 1968, banning discrimination based on race or national origin. However, these discriminatory practices didn’t stop at federal level. They went beyond homeownership too. Some states had an explicit policy of excluding non-white people from living with whites. These policies persist today in some cities through zoning laws that permit only low-density neighborhoods to be built in certain areas. And some suburbs still practice exclusionary zoning by not permitting multi-family dwellings to be built outside designated zones.

Centuries of displacement have destabilized black communities and undermined their access to opportunities. A study by Stanford University found that growing up in a poor neighborhood costs children one month of learning in reading and math skills per year. The impact on students who grow up in poor neighborhoods is not an isolated event; but instead, it is often replicated across generations. When one generation of black Americans is pushed out of areas with better schools, they cannot ensure their children have access to good education. As a result, there’s evidence showing how kids from low-income families also tend to struggle academically. It’s why some academics describe how prejudice against blacks over centuries has led to marginalization and systemic deprivation that persists despite dramatic improvements for blacks as individuals.

Poor treatment toward members of other religions is another example of systematic discrimination. Jews were excluded from many European countries until the 18th century because authorities claimed they didn’t share Christian values or beliefs, which led to discrimination against them well into modern times—one commonly cited example being quotas limiting Jewish people entering universities during WWII.

This issue stems beyond just race.  Women were also subject to exclusion for centuries. As most of us know, women have faced a significant amount of systematic and cultural discrimination throughout history. From having only specific jobs and responsibilities based on their gender (such as teaching or childcare) to not being allowed to vote or work outside of their home during certain times in history, it’s no surprise that women took such a long time to obtain rights like we do today. Until relatively recently, women weren’t granted any political rights—let alone provided opportunities at school or work. Their representation in parliament remains very small compared to men.

And while young girls now outperform boys at school, gaps still exist between genders when it comes to educational attainment later on. An OECD report found that women represent about 43% of people with bachelor degrees, even though they’re typically younger than their male counterparts – showing how existing gender inequalities could affect future generations’ experiences.

But systemic racism isn’t ancient history; it’s happening right now. Thankfully, though there is still progress to be made in countries such as Saudi Arabia—where women were just recently granted permission to drive—things are starting to look up for women across much of the world. However, there is one area that continues to be a persistent problem: gender-based workplace discrimination.

Though many would assume that the recent rise of more feminine men taking leadership roles means that there’s less room for bias towards women in career fields, evidence suggests otherwise. Studies show anywhere from 2% to 9% of all female employees report experiencing gender-related hostility at work, while more than 20% of working females report experiencing some sort of pay inequality compared to their male counterparts!

According to studies done by The Council For Women, women earn about 80 cents per dollar earned by white males, which accounts for differences in occupation, industry, educational attainment, job tenure, and hours worked per week. That difference also increases over time, where new grads start around 95 cents per dollar, but after ten years of experience, they earn approximately 74 cents.

Women are subject to gender-based workplace discrimination that marginalizes them in high-paying careers, prevents their advancement, and creates a system of male dominance. One example is hiring practices. Often times employers will hire men over women simply because they are men. Studies have shown that job candidates with masculine names are more likely to be employed than candidates with feminine names.

Systematic Oppression Against BAME People

It’s no secret that work and workplace discrimination still go hand in hand. Just last year, it was revealed that Britain’s NHS had an alarming number of discriminatory practices against ethnic minority employees – most notably by unfairly firing BAME (black, Asian, and minority ethnic) people from their jobs. The statistics were astonishing. Almost half of British Asians and 36% of black workers reported experiencing workplace discrimination in 2016 alone. On top of all that, research shows that ethnicity-based bias is very much ingrained in employers themselves. A 2012 study conducted by City University London found that a huge percentage of bosses deemed black job applicants less suitable for a managerial position than non-BAME candidates. Additionally, due to structural inequality, BAME workers, in some cases, earn less money than their non-BAME counterparts for doing exactly similar jobs, which leads directly to another major issue: wage equality for ethnic minorities hasn’t existed yet.

 Although numerous studies have been conducted to assess racial biases at work, none have achieved concrete results to solve systematic racism issues. Though many companies swear they only hire based on ability and qualifications—not race—the truth is these problems aren’t hard to fix if you acknowledge there’s a problem first. So how do we resolve them? How can we make sure more BAME people are hired? More importantly, how can we stop them from being undervalued once they are hired?

Systematic Oppression Towards LGBTQ+ People

All across America, LGBTQ+ people face discriminatory hiring practices that often lead to them earning less than straight people. According to a study conducted by professor Frank Dobbin of Harvard University, about 14% of gay men and lesbians were passed over for jobs because of their sexual orientation. This kind of behavior is nothing new. On record, there is evidence that shows discriminatory behavior towards transgender people back in 1945. For example, at one point, female-to-male transgender individuals would have to leave military service if they asked to be called he instead of she or vice versa. It also became illegal for these soldiers to get sex reassignment surgery while enlisted. Fortunately, these policies have changed over time, but it seems like some attitudes haven’t. Many people still hold views against gender identity even though it shouldn’t matter what someone looks like or who they are attracted to.

Systematic Oppression in Schools

A study conducted at Columbia University found that African American students are three times more likely to be suspended than their white peers – despite facing zero evidence that they commit crimes more often than anyone else. Moreover, because students of color tend to lack access to educational resources compared with their white counterparts, unfair discipline disproportionately impacts youth of color. When teachers and administrators notice a trend among minority students being referred for disciplinary action, they respond by issuing harsher punishments or policies that further perpetuate inequality. Furthermore, black men are 21% less likely to go to college compared with white men even though research shows college graduates make twice as much money as those without degrees over time—meaning black people stand to lose out on an enormous sum each year by not getting into college or dropping out early enough.

University of New Hampshire sociology professor Paul G. Solman recently wrote an interesting column for The Washington Post about how minority students are often targets of systematic oppression in universities. As it turns out, even at elite institutions, blacks and Latinos are considerably less likely to study with faculty than whites or Asians. Moreover, even within departments that hire black professors, fewer opportunities arise for contact between minority students and faculty (Solman). When minority students are marginalized by systematic oppression in universities, they cannot reach their full potential.

It is time for us to realize that systematic oppression is still taking place today. Without proper education of citizens about these issues, little progress will be made towards ending systematic oppression throughout all levels of our society.  I am sure something can be done before another generation gets lost.

The more systematic oppression towards any group continues, the more opportunities are lost for everyone involved. To think that our society can move forward when groups of different identities are being discriminated against every day is scary because there will always be differences between us. We may see an end to racism soon, with many people accepting others regardless of skin color, but other forms of systematic oppression towards specific groups might not disappear for hundreds of years unless something drastic happens soon. Hopefully, things change soon before history repeats itself yet again. Until then, we should learn from past mistakes, so we don’t repeat them ever again.