Latest Teen “Challenge” Causes Burns, Scars — When Will These Stop?
When I was in high school, the "Pass Out Challenge" was a fad.
In the "Pass Out Challenge," a kid would hyperventilate for about 30 seconds until he felt lightheaded, hold his breath and then be bear-hugged or squeezed by another student. The goal, obviously, was to pass out. The appeal was a euphoric high, which only made it all the more dangerous. I remember one classmate in particular who would do this often -- when no teachers were around he'd breathe really hard, hold his breath, his face would turn a red or even purple, and then he'd pass out in another student's headlock. It was scary, stupid and dangerous. An online search shows fatalities as recent as 2017 and 2016.
Since then, other popular challenges have included the Chubby Bunny Challenge, the Cinnamon Challenge, the Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge, the Salt and Ice Challenge and -- most recently -- the Tide Pod Challenge. One way or another, most have included a danger factor.
I don't know what it is about these challenges that teens find so fascinating or that keeps them attempting simply stupid stunts. One 2017 article by TeenSafe attributes it to an increase of hormones during puberty. These hormones include dopamine, which prepares the body for sexual activity and gives off the "feel good" sensation. Throw in the chance at 30 seconds of fame, and teenagers will do just about anything including pass out or eat Tide Pods.
In the cycle of unsafe and foolish "challenges," a new one is making headlines -- the Deodorant Challenge. In this one, deodorant is sprayed directly to bare skin for as long as possible. Needless to say, though -- it's dangerous; a teen in the UK was recently hospitalized with second degree burns and may require a skin graft. She described the burns as "a hole in my arm and there's all this yellow stuff coming out." The teen's mother has taken to social media with photos of the burns and a plea to end these "horrendous" challenges.
What's the solution? I don't know for sure, but I think it starts with parents having a conversation with their kids. Make them aware of the challenges. Explain that they're more than "just a game." Make sure they're aware of the consequences. Encourage them not to participate. Repeat as necessary.