Social Media Challenges: What Adults Need To Know

Teens are suffering second-degree burns from purposefully rubbing salt and ice on their skin. Laundry detergent pods are being swallowed resulting in hospitalizations. Recently, a student at a New Jersey High School died after playing something called the Choking Challenge.


The recent rise of social media challenges is putting teens at risk of serious physical harm. So why are these internet challenges so appealing? Why would teens purposely inflict harm on themselves for fun?

Teens seek validation from their peers through social media platforms. They want to put on a show and get reactions and likes. They want to be recognized as the biggest risk taker; the one that completed the challenge successfully.

Some trends fade and others make a comeback. Here are some popular social media challenges that can put our teens in harm’s way:

Cinnamon Challenge:

Involves swallowing a spoonful of cinnamon without water in 60 seconds.

RISK: Cinnamon dries the mouth and can cause irritation to the throat. If inhaled, cinnamon can cause inflammation in the lungs.

Condom Challenge: 

A condom filled with water is dropped over the head like a mask. The condom adheres to the face with the impression that the participant is immersed in water.

RISK: There is potential for suffocation to occur.

Fire Challenge:

This challenge requires pouring flammable liquid on yourself and then setting yourself on fire. An attempt is then made to put out the fire.

RISK: Severe burning can occur. A 12-year old boy suffered third-degree burns to 40% of his body.

Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge:

Involves inserting your lips into a shot glass and sucking in which temporarily causes the lips to swell.

RISK: Can potentially cause scarring and permanent disfigurement.

Choking / Pass-Out Challenge:

Done individually or with others, this challenge involves choking oneself in order to get a high.

RISK: A high school student died partaking in this challenge.

No Lackin Challenge:

After getting into a fake argument with another individual, guns are then drawn at each other.

RISK: A teen was recently shot in the head while doing this challenge.

Tide Pod Challenge:

Involves biting into liquid laundry detergent pods.

RISK: Vomiting, loss of consciousness, difficulty breathing and hospitalization can occur.

Ice Salt Challenge:

Involves putting salt and ice on the skin which causes the skin to burn. The challenge is to see how long you can endure the pain.

RISK: Severe burning can occur. A 12-year old boy suffered second-degree burns.

Our children spend a significant amount of their time at school. Teachers and administrators can play a key role in addressing this issue by providing education.

Educational Assemblies:

Try coordinating educational sessions during school to discuss the consequences of engaging in risky online behavior. Create a safe environment in which students feel comfortable speaking about their experiences. Provide tips for being safe online.


Using pictures and testimonials can be effective in reinforcing the harmful consequences that are a result of some of the most popular challenges.

Provide Support:

Some students may not have a supportive figure at home. Make sure students are aware that support is available to them at school if they are struggling with peer pressure.

Making efforts to intervene early on may prevent another teen from ending up in the emergency room with devastating damage.

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