Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Public Health

Advisor/Committee Chair

Jennifer Manganello


Social media is a phenomenon that has drastically altered how people receive information about current events, communicate with each other, and consume entertainment. Apps such as TikTok have become widely used by many but have also faced increased scrutiny for the nature of its content including viral challenges where users will post a challenge video doing an activity that often has the potential to lead to injury. This content analysis study looks to analyze how these TikTok challenges are covered by news media by assessing how frequent news coverage of TikTok challenges is and the characteristics of such coverage. The database LexisNexis was used to search for relevant articles from all U.S. newspapers and newswires ranging from 1/1/2018-12/31/2023, with a final sample of 214 after applying exclusion and inclusion criteria. A codebook was created to extract content from the articles. Over 54% of coded articles were thematically framed, focusing on the general problem of challenges as a whole, rather than highlighting an individual event. Over 48% of coded articles provided enough information about the challenge that someone would know what to do if they wanted to perform the challenge. It was also found that only 15% of coded articles included injury prevention suggestions for given challenges. Potential solutions mentioned in articles included a person in authority warning people to not do the challenge or educating them about the challenge (66.7%), a structural or policy restriction on the items being used in the challenge (37.1%), and TikTok restricting challenge content through adjusted algorithms or content warnings (31.4%). Results can be used to develop educational programs for parents as well as guidance for journalists about how to provide coverage of these challenges.

Available for download on Sunday, May 31, 2026

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Public Health Commons