When we were kids, we maybe had a pager. Then a cell phone in high school. The most advanced social media we had access to was texting, and it usually cost a quarter a text. Those days are long gone, and today’s young people are growing up in the hashtag generation, with these “challenges” that promote self harm in ways we never thought of (fortunately).
The Eraser Challenge
Some people do things that are silly, yet for a good cause–like the ice bucket challenge that helped raise awareness for ALS. But there are other people who come up with dangerous ideas for no real reason at all. Thus, we give you “the eraser challenge,” in which kids rub an eraser vigorously on their arms while reciting something like the alphabet. The result? A nasty burn on their skin and an Instagram post that all their friends will like and comment on. No charity. No good cause. It’s painful and can become pretty dangerous if you erase enough skin to break through and bleed. “Anytime the skin barrier is broken down, there is an increased risk of skin infections,” Dr. Angela Mattke, a pediatric and adolescent specialist at the Mayo Clinic, told USA Today. “Burns, whether from heat or chemicals, result in a break of the natural skin barrier. The skin barrier’s job is to keep bad things out like potential infection causing bacteria (that live normally on the skin).” The activity might seem dumb—and it is. But it can be much worse if you get an infection, especially if you’re sharing erasers with other kids who have done the same thing. Purell won’t stop this one, but it will surely make it sting.
Salt and Ice
For us to fully understand the danger of this challenge we have to remember a little science. Thanks to the internet’s wealth of informative resources (and because high school was unfortunately a long time ago), we can tell you this about salt and ice: “When salt is added to ice it lowers the melting point. In other words the ice begins melting at a temperature lower than 0° C. This is why salt is added to ice on the roads in the winter. It causes ice that would have otherwise remained as a solid in sub-zero temperatures to turn to water. Note that the temperature of the water has not changed. It’s still at a sub-zero temperature but, as mentioned above, the salt allows it to remain as a liquid at the lower temperature. Don’t think that just because the salted-ice has become water the temperature has risen.” – Stuff Explained Now back to the challenge. Kids are taking an ice cube, putting salt on their arm, and then letting the ice cube melt on it. As we just learned, the salt will lower the melting point so the ice will melt more quickly, but the temperature is still the same as the water. Therefore these kids are getting frostbite, which is effectively the same as burning themselves. The kicker is that the ice is numbing them while it’s happening, so they don’t realize how bad the burns are at first. This trend was so bad that the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in the United Kingdom issued a warning to parents about the craze. At least we can keep an eye on these kids to a certain extent, because they feel like they have to upload the challenge to social media or it never happened. Doesn’t this make you happy we grew up without it?
The Pass Out Challenge
You don’t need to know a lot of science to understand that this one is potentially deadly. This ridiculous trend involves kids filming themselves choking or restricting their breathing ability to the point that they pass out. This is such a disturbing fad. And with today’s added pressure of social media, some young people are trying this alone and then recording the whole thing. So we are seeing too many heartbreaking cases in which kids are literally filming their own death. This is what happened with 11-year-old Davorius Gray, whose mom, Latrice Hurst, found his dead body in his bedroom. “If I could rewind time, I would go back and heavily monitor his use of social media, YouTube and the Internet,” she said. “I don’t believe young people should be on social media and it should be limited to adults, or at the very least, with extreme adult supervision—where the parents can see everything that takes place on the sites—should be a requirement.” It’s crucial that people who have kids heed this warning that these challenges are not just harmless pranks—and that kids’ internet and social media activity should be closely monitored.
The Duct Tape Challenge
This is another challenge that doesn’t require any knowledge of science, but you do need a little “help” from your friends. The problem is that if your friends are dumb enough to wrap you up in duct tape like a broken leg of a chair at a frat house, then they’re probably not going to be much help if something bad happens. Just ask the family of Skylar Fish, who did the duct tape challenge and wound up in the hospital. His friends had done this challenge before. Usually they tape the person to a pole, but this time they taped Skylar standing up. The problem is that if you fall, like Skylar did, then your hands are still taped to your sides. So the only thing to break your fall is your head. Skylar fell into the corner of a window ledge and then hit the concrete. The result: “It crushed his whole eye socket and pinched off nerves in his eye. It’s unknown whether Skylar will regain vision in that eye. He now not only has a brain aneurysm from his head slamming into the concrete, but he also had to get 48 staples,” according to his mom, Sarah Fish. Skylar at least has found some purpose after the tragic events, saying he wants to “teach other kids not to do it. When I think about it, I become sad and then really happy, because I’m happy, because I survived it. I almost died.”
Fire Spray Challenge
The name alone makes you question just what goes through the mind of a teenager. We are sure that at some point everyone has taken a can of hairspray and a lighter and made a fireball. But this challenge has taken that one step further. The hairspray + fire + indoors combination is dumb enough, but in some instances kids are covering themselves with the hairspray then lighting themselves on fire and jumping into a pool. As one worried father told the Daily Mail after he discovered his sons had been doing this: “I felt sick and worried when I heard what they’d done. It could easily have been a phone call saying my sons are in hospital or they’ve died. They have been punished more than I have ever punished them before. It’s shocking that kids are able to watch videos like that.” We think the word shocking is a perfect description of these dangerous fads. We hope to see more schools start educating students on the harm these “challenges” can cause.