Every so often, viral challenges pass around on social media. Some of them use their powers for good, like the ALS Ice Bucket challenge back in summer 2016.
Some are funny and entertaining, like the mannequin challenge, which even got a try from Beyonce or the New York Giants.1
However, some challenges are downright dangerous, like 2014’s Nek Nomination, which had participants chug alcohol, upload the footage, and dare two friends to do the same. By February 2014, at least five young people had died trying that viral challenge.2
Salt and Ice Challenge
In 2017, the latest challenge is called “The Salt and Ice Challenge.” For this stunt, salt is sprinkled on the skin, usually the forearms and hands. Then ice cubes are pressed into the salt, creating a burning sensation. The challenge is in how long you can withstand the pain. Then, the salt is rinsed off and the resulting burn shown to the camera.
The danger with this challenge is that salt lowers the freezing point of ice, causing severe injuries. Some kids have needed treatment for second-degree burns. The risk is even higher because of how the challenge gets kids to leave the ice on for as long as possible.3
This salt and ice challenge is very similar to the cinnamon challenge of 2011 to 2012. The cinnamon challenge was simple: eat a spoonful of powdered cinnamon. The coughing and choking that followed resulted in hundreds of calls to poison control centers and thousands of hospital visits. Cinnamon is caustic to the lung tissue, causing intense damage when inhaled, even in small quantities. Some teens even suffered collapsed lungs and ended up in the hospital.4
Talk to your Kids about Social Media Challenges
More severe challenges involve one key element: How much pain or discomfort can you take? Whether it’s the pain of drinking shots of liquor, the pain of swallowing cinnamon, or the pain of burning with ice, all these challenges prey on kids and teens who aren’t informed about the risks and want to earn the approval of friends and peers.
Talk to your kids about how while some social media challenges are cool and fun, they should never do anything that could harm their bodies, no matter how many ‘likes’ they’ll get.
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