As parents, we want to believe that our children are making safe and healthy choices, but many social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok are prime for risky behavior. In recent years, there have been millions of videos and pictures of youth engaging in challenges or dares that can sometimes have very scary consequences. These videos often show people using household products and everyday items in an “I dare you” style challenge. Here are a few of the challenges and myths that can pose risks:
Salt and Ice Challenge
In this challenge, salt is placed directly on the skin surface such as an arm. Then ice is placed overtop for as long as a person can tolerate it. To show proof of completing the challenge, the video or photo is then uploaded to social media. This challenge effectively causes a chemical reaction where the freezing temperature of the ice is lowered, which results in a burning sensation and potential frost bite. The risk can be minor skin discoloration to second- and third-degree burns.
Pregnancy Test/Plan B Myth
The popular video-sharing site TikTok has recently been bursting with videos of teens and young adults claiming to find a Plan B or emergency contraception pill inside of a pregnancy test. According to manufacturers of common pregnancy tests, the pill-shaped tablet found inside pregnancy tests is actually a desiccant used to reduce moisture. This tablet in no way effects pregnancy. While this tablet is not expected to cause symptoms, it can cause irritation. More concerning is the potential false sense of security surrounding a potential pregnancy when the desiccant is consumed.
The Firespray challenge
The fire spray challenge, also known by its hashtag #FireSprayChallenge, is a viral trend where challengers create a dragon-breath type of fire by using aerosols and lighters. Common aerosols such as hairspray, deodorant, cooking spray, and air fresheners are sprayed directly onto a lit flame from a lighter. The result from this fireball-style flame can cause burns to the skin and may start a fire on surrounding surfaces and clothing.
The Cinnamon challenge
The cinnamon challenge has had varying degrees of popularity since 2001. This viral dare instructs viewers to eat a spoonful of cinnamon in under 60 seconds without drinking anything. While cinnamon is edible, eating it in this manner can cause gagging and choking when the dry cinnamon clumps in the mouth. Irritation to the upper airway, leading to breathing difficulties, can occur.
The MiO® challenge is another internet dare that requires individuals to ingest large amounts of caffeine. MiO® Energy is a concentrated liquid that is added to water to add flavoring and energy enhancing ingredients such as caffeine, guarana, and B-vitamins. A single serving (or one squirt) contains 60 mg caffeine. There are 18 servings in the 1.62 oz container, making the caffeine content of the entire bottle a total of 1080 mg. To complete the challenge, the entire bottle is ingested all at once. This amount of caffeine is enough to cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headache, nervousness, jitteriness, dizziness, sweating, heart palpitations, and tremor.
Tide Pod® Challenge
The Tide Pod® challenge was one of the biggest challenges in early 2018, which involves biting down on a brightly colored laundry detergent packet and ingesting its highly concentrated contents. While many social media outlets have vowed to take down videos of this challenge, laundry packets continue to be a big problem, as young children continue to ingest them or get them into the eye through handling.
Biting into a laundry pod is no joke, since there is the potential for serious symptoms. Ingestion of the liquid has caused excessive vomiting, wheezing, and gasping. It has been shown that when children are exposed to the contents they can become very sleepy. Other children have had trouble breathing, which can become serious enough to need a ventilator to help them breathe. There have also been reports of corneal abrasions (scratches to the eyes) when the detergent gets into the eyes of either a child or an adult.
For any questions or concerns about these internet trends, call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. Specially trained nurses and pharmacists are available 24/7/365 to answer your questions. The service is free and confidential.