Despite the bottomless pit of knowledge that is the Internet, we often decide to use it for watching funny dog videos. Procrastination, however, is one of the mildest risks of Internet usage. Trends like The Harlem Shake, the Running Man, and the Ice Bucket Challenge show that people can get on any bandwagon for a crumb of online fame.
Although these are some of the more harmless ones, a few viral challenges could kill you!
In this gallery, we give you the top 12 most dangerous social media challenges in the history of the internet. Have you ever done any of these?
12) The Chubby Bunny challenge is one of the tamer ones on the list. Stuffing marshmallows in your mouth while saying ‘Chubby Bunny’ can lead to choking, but it’s definitely not as deadly as some of the other challenges we mention later on.
11) The Condom Snorting Challenge is exactly what you think it is. People snort condoms through their noses and pull them out through their mouths. There is a possibility that you could potentially get the condom stuck in your windpipe or lungs.
10) The Kylie Jenner Challenge is when you suck on a shot glass or water bottle in order to get fuller lips. There have been cases where people have cut themselves after the glasses broke on them in the middle of their attempts.
9) If you like sour candies, then you may have tried this challenge before. The Warhead Challenge is when the participant attempts to eat 150 warheads in 10 minutes. This can actually make you lose your taste buds or leave you with a bloody tongue.
8) The objective of the Cinnamon Challenge is to see if you can swallow a teaspoon of ground cinnamon in under a minute without drinking anything. Accidental inhalation of cinnamon can damage your lungs, cause inflammation, and lead to infection.
7) The Salt and Ice Challenge is when participants pour ice on a part of their body and then place ice on the salt. This creates an extreme burning sensation. Participants see how long they can withstand the burn. It can lead to frostbite and third-degree injuries.
6) Many people love the taste of spicy hot foods, but we don’t think they like the taste of suffering. The Hot Pepper Challenge is when a person eats a chili pepper that is high on the Scoville scale. Basically, a really hot pepper. Vomiting and hallucinations can sometimes occur after eating the pepper.
5) The Eraser Challenge made headlines after kids were hospitalized for taking part in it. It is a ‘game’ where you erase your skin while saying the alphabet and coming up with a word for each letter. Once you get to Z, you stop and compare your skin with your friends.
4) The Hot Water Challenge basically started out as a prank gone wrong. A viral video featured a young woman throwing a pot of boiling hot water on her brother, which left him with severe burns.
3) The Choking Game is where participants get choked in order to get a temporary ‘high.’ Intentionally cutting off oxygen to your brain is dangerous and can definitely kill you. There have been many cases where kids have died after playing the Choking Game.
2) Kids aren’t the only people taking part in dangerous challenges. Neknominate/Neknominations is a drinking game where people film themselves drinking a pint of beer and uploading it online. The participants nominate two others to do the same. People have died from the challenge after trying to one-up each other by drinking larger amounts of liquor and doing crazy stunts.
1) The most dangerous challenge of all is the Fire Challenge. This is when you spray or pour a flammable liquid on your body and light yourself on fire. Obviously, this isn’t going to end well.
In the last few years, TikTok has steadily grown in popularity, especially among teenagers and young people. The trends on this social network have moved past simple jokes and dance moves, bringing impressionable children into dangerous territories that can jeopardize their health and even lives. In 2022, the Pew Research Center found that around two-thirds of teens use TikTok. This is a sign that children and teenagers are at particular risk of accidents related to dangerous social media challenge trends.
Young people are exceptionally prone to engaging in risky behavior due to the ongoing development of their brains. It is a commonly shared scientific fact that the human brain doesn’t fully develop until the age of 25. The last brain area that still develops in adolescence is the prefrontal cortex, which controls functions like cognition and judgment.
Adolescents are still learning to tell right from wrong. Therefore, they dare to take risks and participate in trends that older people wouldn’t try. Young people are easy to believe and willing to try out behaviors they see online, especially when their friends have already jumped on the bandwagon.
Peer pressure is the bedrock of children's and adolescents’ behavior, and social media is the perfect modern-day example of this. Dangerous social media challenges attract young people through the amplification of social desirability biases, behavioral displays, and reinforcement.
Fear of missing out (FOMO) is another vital factor that encourages risky behavior online. The pressure to recreate socially desirable behaviors and follow current trends is all over social media. Social networks like TikTok increase unrealistic expectations about people’s bodies, lifestyles, and behaviors - leading to mental health issues in impressionable young people and pushing them towards self-destructive activities.
Finally, what prompts young people to replicate risky behaviors they see online is the false sense of security. Namely, popular social media users who partake in dangerous challenges don’t seem to suffer any drastic consequences. What gullible children and even young adults sometimes fail to realize is that most people online lie and fake certain activities for clout.
One of the most recent examples of dangerous social media challenges is the NyQuil Chicken Challenge, also known as the Sleepy Chicken Challenge. This risky trend has been doing the rounds for several years, but it recently resurfaced on TikTok. It involves boiling chicken breast in NyQuil cough syrup and eating the finished “meal.”
The FDA released a statement warning TikTok users of the potential dangers of this trend. According to this statement, consuming too much NyQuil can lead to numerous side effects, such as breathing problems, seizures, and even death. Even if you don’t consume the final product, you can inhale the medication’s vapors during the cooking process and damage your lungs.
In order to avoid potentially fatal incidents related to online trends like the NyQuil Chicken Challenge, parents should educate their children about the importance of using medications safely and take a skeptical approach to any risky trend they encounter on social media.