by Aiden Hills, staff writer

NOVEMBER 2021 –  Recently, schools have seen a significant increase in behavioral issues caused by social media trends. The social media app TikTok has been the main app to find and start these trends. TikTok has more than 1 billion users, and studies by Statista and wallaroommedia show that 25-32 percent of those users are ages of 10-19. More than 285,000 children are being exposed to these trends monthly, and a lot of them want to repeat what they see.

TikTok has a lot of influence over younger generations. The prevalence of TikTok in teenagers’ lives can begin to affect their lives outside the internet. Schools are one area that have seen the effects of these trends. Users of TikTok have started to create trends that have negatively and positively affected the schools they attend.

The original videos that started the chain of school-based trends was known as the “Devious Lick” trend. The trend encouraged the theft of school property like sinks, mirrors, paper towel dispensers, and many other school appliances.  

The trend quickly gained popularity in only days, with the number of videos that were showing up on students’ “For You Page” (TikTok’s homepage) quickly arose. The number of videos did not seem to show any signs of slowing down, with many videos being posted every day of the crimes teenagers were committing.

A faucet was stolen from a bathroom at Bio-Med caused by the Devious Lick trend’s effect on the seventh and eighth-grade students. The sink was closed for two weeks before reopening again, making it difficult for multiple students to wash their hands at once.

Over sixteen thousand videos have been posted that can be attributed to the Devious Lick trend. More videos have been posted under the hashtag “#DeviousLick,” but TikTok has taken them down for violating community guidelines.

Within Bio-Med, there have been examples of students participating in these trends. Ms. Stephanie Hammond, the guidance counselor for grades 10 through 12 said, “There’s been vandalization in the bathrooms. I thankfully, knock on wood, have not heard of anybody getting assaulted.”  

Several counter-measures have been taken to curb participation in these trends at Bio-Med. “We cannot take phones into the bathrooms. We can only go into bathrooms one person per class. It’s really annoying,” said Hope Sprague, an eighth-grade student. “For the first few weeks, there was a teacher that waited outside of the bathrooms, they took phones, [we] had to put phones away in class, [and] all these consequences have come from TikTok.” Sprague is frustrated with the punishments her entire grade is facing due to an individual’s choice of participating in the Devious Lick trend.

Along with Bio-Med, schools like Kent Roosevelt High School have started to take more precautionary measures. Students are finding themselves being stripped of privileges that they are used to because of the behavior these trends are causing. Multiple students going to the bathroom at once is no longer allowed, and students must ask permission before leaving the classroom for any reason.

The effects of the Devious Lick trend are seen as disruptive and dangerous to schools, the staff, and other students. These trends that stemmed from the many Devious Lick videos contain the illegal activity, including theft and vandalism while introducing new crimes such as assault, battery, sexual assault, truancy, and more.

Mr. Randy Rininger, the Dean of Students at Bio-Med Science Academy, listed trends that may occur during the coming months, cautioning students not to participate. Some of these trends include “Vandalize School Bathrooms,” “Smack a Staff Member,” “Jab a Breast,” and “Ditch day.”

Students at other schools are facing criminal charges for participating in the “smack a staff member” trend, including at Lancaster County School District. Hammond is familiar with these trends and how they can affect the school, saying, “I think about this whole Devious Licks, the slap a staff [and] these ones that are coming up. I am not trying to date myself, but I truly don’t understand how vandalism is a trend if you boil it down, or literally physical assault is a trend.”

Parents of Bio-Med students are advised to be aware of these trends that may be coming in the future, and are told to communicate with their children with Rininger saying, “Please talk with your student about social media and help them to set boundaries and understand both the good and the bad that come with it. That message needs to be consistent at home and at school so, together, we can help our students have a healthy relationship with social media and use it for positive purposes.”

Many trends are short-lived, so there has been a major decrease in the number of students participating in these trends. However, these trends are still scary to a lot of people, with Hammond saying, “There’s other ones coming up that I’m really worried about, with Devious Licks being the biggest one.”

Not all trends are having negative effects on students. In retaliation for the Devious Lick trend effects, other students have started “Angelic Yields.” The Angelic Yield trend encompasses cleaning or adding things to schools or public places like furniture, soaps, and other convenient items.

Hammond supports this trend, saying, “I think Angelic Yields is a fantastic idea! Doing random acts of kindness, especially without people knowing, is so impactful and can really make someone’s day! Typically, then that individual pays it forward and now you have a movement! I had not heard of this yet but I think we need more trends like this!”

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