This contains sensitive information and should not be shared with anyone below the age of 18 years old.
Our online safety experts have been alerted to a potentially viral TikTok trend. The trend focuses on people recording “reaction videos” while searching for a term that brings them to a specific type of illegal, sexual online content.
From what our experts have discovered, the explicit material found in this trend is NOT hosted on TikTok.
What is a Reaction Video?
Put simply, a reaction video is a recording of a person or group of people reacting to something they are watching online or offline.This can be reacting to anything from an episode of a hittelevision show to highlyanticipated film trailers to popular YouTube videos. Channels on YouTube such as “REACT” expanded the concept into ‘YouTuber Reacts’, ‘Kids React’, ‘Parents React’ and ‘Grandparents React’. In 2013, the concept of reaction videos was adapted into the TV Channel 4 show Gogglebox.
Why Do People Watch Reaction Videos?
The responses of those watching the videos stimulates curiosity. That curiosity combined with the fear of missing out prompts others to participate especially when the reactions they have seen are funny or shocking.
WARNING: This content is extremely explicit.
What We Know So Far
This trend involves users on TikTok filming a before and after video of themselves as they search the term “The Art of the Zoo” (or “Art of Zoo”) on Google. Without detailing what the results are, they proceed to react with a mixture of shock, horror, and disgust. This then prompts viewers to participate in the trend as well or, at the very least, enter the term into a search engine themselves.
The search engine results can bring up links, images, and videos that feature pornographic bestiality.
Bestiality, as defined by the law, refers to a person performing an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive). This is classified as extreme pornography and is illegal throughout the UK.
What are the Risks?
It is important to note that the TikTokreaction videos reviewed by our online safety experts are not explicit in themselves. These videos simply show the reaction of the viewer rather than the content they see.
The risk from reaction videos circulated on TikTok or other platforms is that they may prompt viewers to seek out the extreme material that has engendered the “shocked” response of others.
There is no evidence at this time that children are participating in this trend in large numbers. That said, more children may be exposed to risk if the react challenge gains further traction and more children engage in the activity.
What Our Experts Found
While researching, our experts found little to no evidence that this has become a viral trend. Searching the hashtags “Art of Zoo” and “the Art of the Zoo” revealed under 9,000 views combined. However, individual videos may perform at a higher viewing rate and could attract more attention. Multiple videos even showcased users searching the terms on Google and not being able to find anything considered shocking.
When we enabled Google SafeSearch, there were no explicit results found using any of these terms. Most of the search results displayed picture thumbnails of the reaction videos we found on TikTok. However, once our experts turned off Google SafeSearch and added “video” to the end of the search term, multiple graphic videos and images were presented without warning of explicit material.
IMPORTANT TAKE-AWAY: Extreme and explicit sexual content was blocked by Google SafeSearch*.
The danger of this type of trend comes is that it can drive users down a “rabbit hole”. While searching for these terms do not bring immediate results, there are multiple articles found online that explain what the reaction is and why. This may incite a child or young person to search for the other terms they come across such as “bestiality”. FOMO (fear of missing out) may also prompt them to participate in the trend.
Tell the children in your care that if they come across something scary or disturbing online that they should:
Stop – immediately stop what they’re doing and turn off their screen or shut down their device.
Breath – pause and stay calm.
Think – try not to focus on what they saw in detail.
Talk – find a trusted adult to talk to about what they’ve seen and how they feel.
Helpful Advice & Guidance
Ensure Google SafeSearch is enabled on your child’s devices. It will help filter out any explicit material from initial searches and protect them. Learn how to do this by using our helpful guidance and easy-to-follow steps onOur Safety Centre.
If you or the child in your care have searched this term and found illegal content, it is important that you report your findings to the police. Do not save a photo or video to your device. You can find out more about how to report harmful images here.
Peer pressure can impact young people’s behaviour, as they may feel intense pressure to participate in online viral trends and challenges. Make sure you talk about examples of what positive social media use looks like and how they can recognise peer pressure.
Use our Trusted Adult Resources to teach young people about the importance of seeking help if something worries or upsets them.
Talk to the children and young people in your care about how they can block and report content or behaviour that upsets or worries them. Use our Online Safety Centre to learn how to enable privacy and safety settings together.
Read our Harmful Content article for tips on how to talk to and support the child in your care.
Encourage open, honest, and non-judgmental conversations into your everyday routine. Explain to the children in your care that they can ask you questions about anything they come across or are unsure of online.
Parents, carers, and safeguarding professionals often talk about the support they receive from other adults on addressing online harms to children. Make sure you share this article to support your friends and colleagues.
Children can use the Childline Toolbox if they are feeling anxious, scared, or stressed. It has breathing exercises, videos, games, and activities to help children let go of stress.
For more information on talking to children about sensitive topics, check out our video below.