Dangerous social media trends need to stop

Dorian Uson, Editor-n-Chief

Overtime, as more and more of the population has become of the social media demographic, and the members of these websites get younger and more susceptible to peer pressure, the internet is becoming more and more dangerous.  There are many different challenges that have travelled the different outlets of social media that can be fun and entertaining, but have started to become more and more deadly. From the cinnamon challenge, the milk gallon challenge, to eating tide pods, today’s youth needs to be more aware of taking care of their health before participating in these challenges for views, likes and retweets.

One of the very first social media challenges to surface was the duct tape challenge. This challenge consists of a group of friends using duct tape to tape their friends to a wall, pole, or door and videotape them trying to get down without help. While this challenge seems lower on the totem pole of dangerous challenges, for 14-year-old Skylar Fish it was almost deadly. According the SheKnows.com, he suffered from many injuries from this challenge. “Fish was injured when he tried to break out of his duct tape, causing him to fall and hit his head on a window frame and the concrete. The teen was left with a crushed eye socket that caused a brain aneurysm, as well as 48 stitches in his head.”

Another painful challenge teens participate in is the “salt and ice challenge”. This challenge calls for its participants to hold salt in their hand, then either their friends hold ice down to the ice, of the participant closes their fist around the ice. The goal is to see who can endure this pain the longest. The pain however, is causing participants to get second and third degree burns. According to parent Hollye Grayson, who noticed her 13-year-old son with dark burn like marks on his hand, how children participate in dangerous activities has changed drastically since the internet has been popularized. “Before YouTube we didn’t have to worry about something like this. This is clearly a big problem now, with these kids copying these crazy things.”

Challenges today have changed from physically hurting themselves, to consuming toxic materials. The cinnamon challenge is one of these popular challenges. While small amounts of cinnamon can be beneficial to your health, the cinnamon challenge can have deadly effects. The cinnamon challenge consists of participants eating a spoonful(or more) of cinnamon at a time, and trying to swallow. According to a 2013 pediatrics report, there are many effects of inhaling cinnamon. “Cinnamon inhalation can cause pulmonary inflammation, predisposing airways to epithelial lesions and scarring. Aspirated powder entering the upper airways can cause inflammation and, in more severe cases, aspiration pneumonia. Thus, the Cinnamon Challenge may pose greater and unnecessary health risks for persons allergic to cinnamon or with bronchopulmonary diseases, including asthma.”

One of the most recent trends to surface, and one of the most talked about (and made fun of), is the TidePod Challenge. Participants are biting into brightly colored liquid laundry detergent packets or cooking them in frying pans, then chewing them up before spewing the soap from their mouths. According to the Washington Post, warnings about the harm these pods can cause were issued years ago to warn parents about protecting their young children, but guess they forgot to warn about the teens. “The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning to parents several years ago about the liquid laundry detergent packets. The agency said the capsules — which are colorful, squishy and smell good — are attractive to young children but contain “highly concentrated, toxic detergent” that can cause harm.” This challenge may just be the most dangerous of them all. “Children who have been exposed to the capsules have been hospitalized with vomiting, breathing difficulties and loss of consciousness. And the consequences may be much worse. Since 2012, eight fatalities have been reported among children 5 and younger, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers,” says the Washington Post. “Children and teens can aspirate on the liquid by inhaling it into their lungs, or they can become ill by ingesting it — experiencing a change in blood pressure and heart rate, losing consciousness or having seizures.”

So the real question is, what is going on in the minds of these teenagers that make them put themselves at risks, just for social media exposure? The interesting thing is, that YouTube’s guidelines prohibits videos that’s intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm. Of course, YouTube is not responsible for these challenges and can not be held responsible to take down the thousands of videos posting teens participating in these dangerous activities, but how can these be stopped. Challenges navigate their way around the internet all the time, whether it’s a tag, something to promote a cause, or these dangerous challenges, they all start somewhere and never really end. These challenges aren’t even entertaining to watch, because often times you’re watching someone choke, vomit (or almost), or injure themselves. The solution, is change the way teens and children interpret these videos. They shouldn’t be viewing other people’s pain as enjoyable, but as a learning experience. The phrase “If your friend jumps off a bridge, would you” really comes in handy here as teens and children need to be taught not to succumb to peer pressure, and not to pressure others into putting their lives at risk.