Those are four words kids don’t want to hear from hysterical parents when the stupidity* of their actions is discovered. Earlier this year, we were all introduced to the “Tide Pod Challenge”:

In January 2018, millions of cable TV viewers had their first encounter with the “Tide pod challenge”—an online and social media phenomenon in which someone with a camera (usually a teenager) films themselves biting into one of the laundry detergent pods.

Ann Marie Buerkle, Chairperson of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, told Good Morning America: “Teens trying to be funny are now putting themselves in danger by ingesting this poisonous substance.”


We have examined some of these not-so-funny challenges before on The PediaBlog, like the “Cinnamon Challenge”:

I’m not sure why this website exists at all, except to show videos of unfortunate victims who all experience pain and respiratory distress (but, apparently, no long-term effects).  It’s clear that after the “dragon breath” has appeared, victims experience burning of the mouth and throat, a severe gag reflex, and even laryngospasm, all of which make it extremely difficult to breathe.  The fear in their eyes when they realize they can’t take in a breath is clearly apparent.

The cinnamon challenge has resulted in increased calls to poison control centers, visits to emergency rooms, and, in one case, admission to an intensive care unit for collapsed lungs.  Without medical treatment, it is potentially fatal to the mostly tweens and teens who try it.


We’ve looked at safer challenges (the “Saltine Cracker Challenge”) and more dangerous ones, too — like the “Salt and Ice Challenge”:

This is worse than “silly teenagers doing silly things.” The chance of doing serious self-inflicted harm by performing this challenge is often not factored in by impulsive teens and young adults. Only when the challenger fails to accomplish his or her task can it honestly be said: “Man, that was stupid!” Andrew Krehbiel exposes another challenge still making the rounds that one could call “stupid”:

Since 2012, teens and other YouTube users have done the “Salt and Ice Challenge.” Kids rub salt and ice on their skin to see how long they can feel the burn. Then, naturally, they post their reactions.

It sounds simple, but the damage it can do to the body is serious. Salt and ice create a chemical reaction, which lowers the temperature of ice to 1.4° Fahrenheit (this is why adding salt to water and ice will help you cool a soda can in two minutes). The resulting burns are similar to frostbite, but could be even worse. Some have reported second- and third-degree burns from this challenge.


Pediatrician Jaime Friedman is alarmed:

It seems shocking that kids would do these things to their bodies but the appeal is not just to shock or impress their friends, it’s to gain those likes and potential internet fame. Therefore, it is important for parents to have open communication about the use of social media, set limits on use and control privacy settings[…] Pediatricians also need to be aware of what the skin changes look like because unknowing parents may bring their child in with these mysterious rashes.


In addition to the “Salt and Ice Challenge,” Dr. Friedman ponders the “Deodorant Challenge” which can lead to frostbite, the “Fire Challenge” which can result in very serious burns, and this seemingly innocuous dare:

Type in “eraser challenge” in the YouTube search bar and 310,000 results come up. Some of these are news stories or warnings about doing the challenge, but plenty of others are kids filming themselves doing it. Some of them are really young too! The challenge is to rub an eraser on the skin for as long as they can stand it. The result? A burn-like injury to the skin. The injury is painful and if the skin is open it can get infected and leave a scar. If the wound is very deep, an infection can spread below the skin and make the child very sick.


Chances are your kids have seen these dangerous challenges performed on their social media pages and on YouTube. View the videos together, talk things over, and gently point out that you do not approve of kids doing obviously stupid* things that can easily and permanently harm them.

(*Smart people sometimes do stupid things. Here we are calling the action stupid, not the person.)


(Google Images)