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On Call for All Kids: Talking to Kids about Viral Video Challenges

Posted on Apr 01, 2019


Social media challenges have become very popular among kids. Joe Perno, M.D., from Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital explains that the main intent of these challenges is to generate attention online. It is typical for teenagers to want to try new things, especially when they may be risky. Furthermore, anything that may increase your popularity, i.e. generating likes on Instagram, is very tempting. Teenagers rarely think through the consequences of their actions. It is common for teens to feel invincible.

What Are Some of the Negative Consequences of These Challenges?

It depends upon the challenge. For example, the Tide pod challenge can have serious ramifications on the lungs or gastrointestinal tract. Children can even become quite ill, including having seizures. Snorting condoms can cause a blockage of the airway causing suffocation. If the condom is swallowed, it can also cause a blockage of the intestinal tract requiring emergency surgery. The cinnamon challenge can cause serious respiration problems, especially in those teens who might be prone to respiratory issues. Some of the challenges, such as the Momo Challenge, have been linked to teen suicide attempts.

What Can Parents Do? What Should They Be Doing?

Parents need to speak to their children about these challenges. Similar to the talks they should already be giving about drugs and alcohol, texting and driving, etc., they need to discuss avoiding these challenges. Parents need to explain the dangers while simultaneously understanding the attraction for the teen. Parents need to remain vigilant about staying up to date on these dangerous activities and have some awareness of your child’s social media habits.

On Call for All Kids is a weekly series featuring Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital medical experts. Visit HopkinsAllChildrens.org/Newsroom each Monday for the latest report.


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