Teenagers have always been prone to faddish trends (and sometimes doing dumb things) but more recent fads, such as the “Tide pod challenge” and “fire challenge,” have risen to a new level of thrill-seeking and dangerousness. The Tide pod challenge is where kids bite into brightly colored liquid laundry detergent packets or cook them in frying pans, then chew them up before spitting the soap from their mouths. The fire challenge is an activity which refers to the application of a flammable liquid to one’s body and then setting the liquid aflame, while being video recorded. The event is then posted to social media sites. Not surprisingly, many teens participating in these challenges have been injured seriously enough to be hospitalized.
While adults are understandably puzzled by why teens get a kick out of biting on laundry pods or lighting themselves on fire, it’s not shocking to those who have a good understanding of the teenage mind. “Teenagers are just wired differently, and when you add together peer pressure and a desire for affirmation by others through social media, it’s not surprising that these types of dangerous fads can become popular,” remarked Reliant pediatrician Dr. Michelle Dalal.
So what is a parent to do? The best way to discourage this type of behavior is to sit down and talk with your children about the danger of these new social media fads. According to Dr. Dalal, the following advice is a good place to start:
- Ask your children what types of “challenges” are popular with kids at their school and ask if they have watched these types of videos online.
- Let them know what you think about the dangers. Hopefully, they’ll agree with you that conduct of this kind is not worth the risk.
- It’s also a good time to remind them of the fact that some teens who have engaged in these types of challenges have been hospitalized and even suffered lifelong injuries.
Most of all, remind your children that peer pressure should never tempt them into taking unnecessary risks. It’s also a good idea to monitor your teen’s time on social media and make sure they have other outlets to express themselves and engage with others. Wikipedia has more information on the Tide pod challenge and fire challenge.