We all remember when the ALS ice bucket challenge went viral in an attempt to raise awareness about the disease, right? While this challenge was created for a beneficial cause and although chilly, was not dangerous, many of the challenges cooked up on social media are extremely dangerous. Often challenges require that participants to do an activity that results in pain or illness. Some of the higher-risk challenges can even result in death. From consuming indigestible amounts of food/drink to snorting substances to burning oneself, all of these activities have been trending over the past few years.
So why do kids and teens participate in such ridiculous and dangerous activities? One reason is that they want to fit in with their peers. The desire to be accepted is powerful and could lead to risky behavior. If a challenge has gone viral and everyone in school is talking, posting, and tweeting about it, the pressure to participate increases. Similarly, kids may want to show off by proving their strength and stamina in completing a challenge. YouTube has many channels with millions of followers, promoting ordinary people to online stardom. If these YouTube celebrities are popular with kids and teens and they promote a challenge, their fan base will become interested in trying it themselves.
You may have heard of the cinnamon challenge, in which participants try to eat a spoonful of cinnamon. This results in lots of coughing and possible choking, vomiting, or inhalation. However, a popular YouTube star, beloved by kids and teens alike, gained a massive 47 million views of the video showing her trying the cinnamon challenge per her fans requests. Some kids record videos of themselves participating in challenges with the goal of popularity measured by the number of views on YouTube.
If you are wondering what types of dangerous challenges are currently trending at your child’s school, ask them! By getting the conversation started, you can talk with your child about any new trends in challenges, the reasons why they are dangerous, and how to avoid any peer pressure they may be facing in regards to participating in the challenges. A great response for your child to say when being pressured to try a challenge is, “it’s not worth the risk.” While the trending challenges may be changing, the need to talk about safety remains crucial.