So many TikTok challenges can be deadly for teens. We go through several that parents should know about below, but first, the latest:
Last week 14-year-old, Harris Wolobah of Worcester, Massachusetts came home from school and passed out. Tragically, he was rushed to the hospital and declared dead later that day. That morning he’d participated in TikTok’s viral trend, “The One Chip Challenge.” The trend challenges players to eat a single chip flavored by the world’s two hottest peppers, the Carolina Reaper and the Naga Viper. After eating the chip, which comes in a coffin-shaped box, participants wait to see how long they can go without eating or drinking to relieve the heat/pain. The challenge itself was created by the chip manufacturer, Paqui in 2016.
By early afternoon, Wolobah had visited the school nurse with stomach pains.
Though an autopsy has not been completed at the time of publishing this article, Lois Wolobah indicated that her son died from complications around the ‘One Chip Challenge.”
As a result, Paqui is pulling the single-chip product from shelves. On Thursday a spokesman from the company noted that they are “deeply saddened by the death of Harris Wolobah and express our condolences to the family.” The spokesman also stated that the ‘One Chip Challenge,’ was meant for adults only.
A HISTORY OF DANGEROUS CHALLENGES.
A fascination with activities that skirt danger and mortality is not a new thing for adolescents and teenagers. In the ‘90s and early 2000s, pre-social media, over 80 teens died playing the pass-out game—a game in which teens choke themselves to get high from temporary asphyxiation. Though the idea behind this game was to stop the choking before permanent damage occurred, the reality is that brain cells begin dying within minutes of cutting off oxygen flow to the brain.
The difference in impact of deadly games like these between now and the ‘90s is, of course, the sum of social media and how far its tentacles stretch. According to Wallaroo Media, TikTok has roughly 80 million active users in the United States—32% of whom are between the ages of 10 and 19. (That’s over 25 million people.) For parents, this is a perilous and terrifying reality.
TRAINING WHEEL TECH AND ‘THE TECH TALK.’
But there are ways to mitigate and prepare kids for the dangers of technology. At Techish, we are big advocates of Training Wheel Tech—which is starting kids off slow on technology and keeping them away from social media for as long as feels right. We also advise having ‘tech talks’ with your kids early and often. Keep the lines of communication open with your kids about tech, its hazards, and its benefits. As Jennifer states in her article “The Tech Talk: Guiding Your Kids Towards Healthy Tech Habits,” teaching your kids healthy tech habits is “all about striking a balance, leading by example, learning from mistakes (theirs and yours), and allowing everyone in the family to grow along the way.”
WHAT ARE THE LATEST VIRAL TIKTOK CHALLENGES?
We are here to help guide you and your families through the current roster of hazards on TikTok. Here is our list of the most dangerous viral TikTok trends to be aware of and to talk with your kids about:
One Chip Challenge prompts players to eat the spiciest chip in the world and see how long they can go before eating/drinking to alleviate the heat. It has led to at least one death.
The Borg Trend or Blackout Rage Gallon Challenge, calls for mixing a gallon jug with water, vodka, caffeinated flavor enhancers, and electrolyte powders. Though the idea is to avoid a hangover via electrolytes, excessive drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning.
Mouth Taping: The idea behind this one is to cover someone’s mouth with tape to eliminate snoring. For people with sleep apnea and other breathing disorders, this can lead to death.
The Blackout Challenge is an updated version of the early ‘90s pass-out game. There are several other versions of this dangerous viral challenge on TikTok, including the “Space Monkey challenge”.
Chroming is similar to the blackout challenge in that its goal is a brief feeling of euphoria. Essentially this viral TikTok challenge amounts to huffing chemicals to get high and can lead to death as well as other health issues like seizures.
Fake Piercings with Magnets seem benign but can cause a host of problems if multiple magnets are ingested, as they may attract one another inside the body, potentially causing intestinal and bowel constriction, and endangering blood circulation.
The Benadryl Challenge is a dangerous viral trend on TikTok that amounts to taking extra-large doses of Benadryl to get high and trigger hallucinations. Overconsuming Benadryl can lead to heart problems, seizures, and coma. It has led to at least one death.
The Cha Cha Slide Challenge prompts teens to engage in reckless driving to the tune of DJ Casper’s hit song “The Cha Cha Slide.” Participants taking part in the challenge swerve dangerously, risking collisions and fatal accidents.
The Deodorant Challenge asks kids to spray deodorant closely onto their bare skin for extended periods of time which can cause severe burns due to the aerosol’s pressurized gas. Some participants have sustained injuries requiring years of healing and plastic surgery.
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO TO PREPARE YOUR KIDS FOR THE DANGERS OF TECHNOLOGY?
As Sarah Werle Kimmel, a family tech expert, told Jennifer over the phone, “There’s never a point as a parent that you can check out on this.”
Kids are good at the internet. They are good at figuring it out, and they probably know more about the internet landscape than you do. But as long as you keep having ‘tech talks’ with them, you are giving them tools to navigate the tech world a little more safely.
Lastly, stay up-to-date on trends like the ones listed above as best you can. For that, we at Techish are always here to help.