This concerned mother took to social media to warn her fellow parents against the unsupervised use of gadgets after her four-year-old daughter almost got herself killed while copying a video on TikTok.
In a now-viral post on Facebook, Mara Ordinario shared her experience of finding her bubbly daughter Freya in such a scary situation.
“She saw a video of a kid hanging him/herself and then she tried copying it using the venetian blinds pull cords in our bedroom. She wrapped her neck 3 times then jumped,” she wrote.
“My innocent 4 y.o. baby girl almost lost her life because of some stupid TikTok video. Kaya guys, please, please, bantayan mabuti ang mga kiddos pati mga pinapanuod nila,” she added.
In an interview with The Philippine STAR, Mara shared more about this incident in hopes of helping raise awareness on the potential dangers lurking in apps and online platforms.
She said she was in the same room as Freya and her 10-month-old baby when it happened.
Freya was doing her usual playtime routine of stacking pillows when Mara noticed she was sitting on their bed already struggling.
“‘Tas nung napansin ko, paglingon ko, nakahawak pa siya sa leeg niya, tapos nakita ko nakatali na ‘yung cord nung Venetian blinds (of a window above the bed) sa leeg niya. So wala nang sound na lumalabas sa kanya noon,” recounted the mother of two.
Thankfully, Freya was not in that position for longer than 20 seconds as her mother immediately removed the cord from her neck.
Soon after rescuing Freya, the concerned mom asked her daughter why she would do such a thing. It took some prodding and assurance that she wouldn’t be angry before the four-year-old revealed that she saw a TikTok clip of a kid tying their neck before jumping and turning into a ghost.
“Saka niya sinasabi sa leeg daw tinatali, tapos tatalon daw yung bata, tapos magiging multo na ang bata,” she said.
Mara said after Freya shared the reason she did not push for any other information since it was also a traumatic experience for her daughter.
But out of panic, she removed TikTok without searching for the video her daughter was referring to. Until now, she said, the gadget is still confiscated.
“Ngayon pag kinausap ko siya, aware naman siya na masama talaga yun, na di dapat ulitin. Then we also explained to her that if ever may makita pa siya na ganun kung saan man, if makapag-YouTube siya or whatnot, if alam niyang masasaktan siya sa gagawin niya, ‘wag niya na gagawin kasi evil is everywhere talaga, nagpe-prey especially on the innocent minds of children.”
It was only this year when Mara and her husband started to allow their daughter to play with gadgets.
She admitted, “Kasi di maiwasan siempre working parents kami, kumbaga yung time namin which we are both guilty din na kapag makulit, o sige mag-cellphone ka muna…”
Nevertheless, she tried to equip her phone with a one-hour screen limit for TikTok but Freya was able to work her way around the limitation.
For this app, one can also view its videos even without an account.
Mara, who described her child as “masayahin and makulit din,” enjoyed copying viral TikTok dances. “Ang galing niya manggaya… so, I’m pretty sure kinopya lang talaga niya (yung nangyari).”
Meanwhile, her viral post on Facebook has already collected 4.3k shares, 1.4k reacts and 1.4k comments.
Because of her post, Mara said many parents told her that they could relate to her while others decided to delete the application on their phones as well.
“Very alarming kasi siya. I just don’t want it to happen na may ibang parents na di nila nakikita na yung anak nila na gawin yun. Kasi sobrang nakakatakot yung feeling.
“Imagine yung mga iniisip ko at that time. Paano kung nasa CR ako or nasa labas na ako at the time na ginawa niya yun? Ayoko lang may iba pang makaramdam ng ganon,” she said.
A study on kids’ app usage and habits has found TikTok as one of the favorite apps among children from ages 4 to 15, rivaling the popularity of YouTube and driving the growth of social media usage by 200 percent in 2020. It also said that lockdowns pushed the “huge rise in the popularity of social apps even further across major markets.”
Children’s organizations like the UNICEF has cautioned parents and caregivers on the risks of too much screen time such as exposure to harmful content, especially during this time of pandemic.
UNICEF has encouraged parents to always engage and communicate with their child about online safety, agree as a family on boundaries, use available online safety tools, among other tips.
As for Mara, she has “learned a lot” from the experience as a parent, including to be more vigilant in monitoring her kid’s gadget usage. “Kelangan lang talaga natin sila bantayan kasi hindi naman natin controlled yung mga content nung mga pinopost ng mga tao. Yung iba, for them, it’s just for fun. Pero hindi nila alam na may mga bata na nakakapanood.”