(HealthyResearch.com) – Many of us loved to challenge each other when we were young. Perhaps we dared another kid to hop on the porch of the “scary lady who yells” or “ding, dong, and ditch” a neighbor. We might even have challenged a younger sibling to sneak cookies from the snack jar after bedtime or prank call someone.
All harmless, right? (Unless Mom and Dad found out who got Suzy to steal treats!) In recent years, though, the Internet’s popularity has resulted in social media challenges. And some of them may be deadly.
Who Takes Dangerous Social Media Challenges?
Social media challenges aren’t necessarily dangerous. For example, we may have Facebook friends who challenge each other to exercise more in the New Year. We might know pals who have turned to a favored YouTube influencer’s challenge to follow a particular diet or to raise funds for charities.
But for some teens and young adults, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube have become hot spots for producing potentially dangerous social media challenges. These young people are at an age where they are easily influenced by their peers.
Teens and young adults may believe the rewards (approval from friends) outweigh the risks (potentially deadly injuries). Viewing rejection from their peers as their worst possible scenario, young folks flock to the riskiest social media challenges like a bee to pollen.
What Are the Most Dangerous Social Media Challenges?
Some social media challenges might seem just as innocent as our childhood dares. But others have the potential to go wrong in terrifying ways.
Here are eight of the most dangerous social media challenges to go viral on the Internet:
- Car Surfing Challenge: For young people, what could be more fun than standing like a surfer on a moving car? Some tragically discovered this challenge was fatal rather than fun, with teens and young adults ending up hurt or even dead.
- Kiki Challenge: To complete the KiKi Challenge, we need to leap from a moving car. As the car continues on its way, we must dance to Drake’s “In My Feelings.” This musical challenge has resulted in some very off-tune tragedies. One young person was hit by a car door, while another ended up in the intensive care unit of a hospital.
- Bird Box Challenge: Netflix became so alarmed by the dangers of the Bird Box Challenge, which is based on one of its films, that the company issued a warning against it. This challenge requires putting on a blindfold and then performing tasks. Stunts like walking in New York City or driving while blindfolded have resulted in injuries.
- Fire Challenge: For generations, Smokey the Bear has reminded us not to play with fire. But when the Fire Challenge went viral on YouTube, the opportunity to garner “likes” proved irresistible for some. This incredibly dangerous challenge involves using an accelerant like acetone before setting oneself on fire. The result? Burns ranging from superficial to third and even fourth-degree burns.
- Pass-out Challenge: Also known as the Choking Game, this challenge has resulted in death by strangling for dozens of kids. The supposed game involves getting choked by a peer or choking oneself with a belt and shoelace contraption. Young people who have survived claim it makes them feel happy and high, but the families of kids killed by this challenge might disagree.
- Cinnamon Challenge: We love cinnamon on everything from oatmeal to rice pudding. But when the cinnamon challenge turned viral, some who took the dare ended up in the hospital. This risky stunt involves swallowing a full tablespoon of cinnamon in 60 seconds. Because the challenge typically results in choking, it’s particularly dangerous for those with asthma and related conditions.
- Benadryl Challenge: Benadryl is a useful antihistamine for those with allergies. However, when this over-the-counter medication was used in a TikTok challenge, teens experienced such extreme side effects that many had to be hospitalized. One 15-year-old died.
- Milk Crate Challenge: This new social media challenge has become a public health hazard as participants stack milk crates in a pyramid and climb on top in hopes of viral social media views. While some individuals have climbed high to many views, others have fallen and sustained real injuries. Experts have even warned the injuries can be worse than falling from a ladder.
What Can We Do to Reduce Social Media Challenge Risks?
As parents, relatives, teachers, or religious leaders, we have the opportunity to influence the young people in our lives. We may play a role in reducing potentially deadly social media challenges through:
- Education: Rather than preach, we may educate young people on the dangers of taking social media risks. We might invite them to discuss which challenges they’ve received and talk about their options.
- Alternatives: We may arrange safe challenges that young people may film and post on Facebook, YouTube, or TikTok. We might take a group on an intensive hike, go kayaking, or head to a skate park.
- Guidelines: Whether we are entertaining a visiting nephew, parenting triplets, or teaching teens, establishing clear rules may help to protect young people. Getting parents and other adults on board might offer teens the security that people truly care. And learning to follow guidelines also may prepare teens for their future.
We may feel anxious or depressed about learning how young people risk their lives to win dangerous social media challenges. But by understanding the risks involved, we might also succeed in helping the young people in our lives to stay healthy. And that’s a real win.
~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!
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