Death by Social Media


This post is not a review, but I feel it is a very important subject. There’s a a couple of wrongful death suits against TikTok because of the deaths of 3 young kids who did TikTok challenges. I also know there are attempts of suits against YouTube for for similar incidents, but most of those are for dangerous “life hacks” that have been pointed out as dangerous or deadly, but the content has not been removed.

I write this not just for the special needs families, but for families of all children as ANY child’s brain is still developing, surprisingly, until the age 25. That’s right, most people don’t reach fully maturity until age 25. This is why so many of these trends and challenges affect children, teens, and young adults. Helping them understand the dangers from an early age will help them recognize it when they are not around you and are subject to peer pressure.

Note – when I refer to people being dumb or stupid in this article, I don’t mean intelligence… I mean when a person chooses to do something they know is dangerous just because they are hoping to become popular. The younger they are, the more lenient I am regarding this, which is why so many of these deaths and injuries are tragic. They’re 100% preventable.

“Smart people learn from their mistakes. But the real sharp ones learn from the mistakes of others.”

Brandon Mull, author of Fablehaven, Dragon Watch, Beyonders, Five Kingdoms, the Candy Shop War, and more

Media is Reconditioning our Brains

We didn’t allow YouTube in the house unless we were watching it as a family because of wide variety of content. And thanks to their algorithm, if you start watching a certain type of video, it continues to force feed those videos to you. Of course, the kids who lived in other houses, we didn’t have control over, but we noticed issues. They would watch videos similar to the America’s Funniest Home Videos, a compellation of videos with some cheesy music and a laugh track. However, what I noticed was instead of minor injuries shown like in the original show, these would have resulted in major trauma or death (insert my medical background here). I was horrified they found this funny. They started laughing every time anyone in real life was injured or was ill, they were completely desensitized (no, they do not have Autism). I had to recondition their brains and went about it rather untraditionally and unconventionally. (I also noticed Thing 3 started planning his own stupid, dangerous stunts and planned on recording them… yeah, no.)

There are lots of studies of the effects of laugh tracks on people. You can see it in real time by watching 100 Humans on Netflix, I think it’s the Pain vs. Pleasure episode.

So, I went back and watched some old Jackass clips. There is no laugh track in that show, most of the cast are professional stunt men. So I searched for clips where the end result showed them getting injured, possibly with the need of an ambulance. I started out with some easy ones. We all laughed out loud (it was all a ploy). Then I went to one with Johnny Knoxville on a dirt bike. I can’t remember what exactly happened, but he ended up unconscious. His crew called for an ambulance. The kids I was trying to recondition got really quiet. I decided to fake laugh and ask if it was funny. They told it wasn’t funny. I asked them why. They told me why. I replayed the video but added in a laugh track from my phone. They were horrified. I have not seen them watch one of those compellation shows again. It wasn’t my first choice, but sometimes a visual representation is the only way a child can learn. (Let me say that letting my kids watch Jackass would never be my first choice, but I do have to say, that show always showed the effects of their decisions, whether their friends getting angry with pranks, them getting hurt or sick, or even arrested. There was no sugar coating and it didn’t fade out after the stunt or prank leaving the audience wondering what happened next or leaving us thinking everything was ok. But I will also mention Jackass below in the challenges).

We do not allow the teens to have most of the social media. The teens that do have it usually only have it to connect with their friends or use it for art purposes. We are very involved with their “social networking” (not cyber stalking, but check in regularly and we do require some family to be social contacts for safety).

Back to the challenges:

Challenges

Most “challenges” appear on TikTok, but can show up on any platform. I will not be putting specific dosages of any of the challenges as I do not want to encourage them. (Some of these challenges have caused substance addictions with ordinary house hold items are are known in the medical community as “TikTok Drugs”, which can often lead to more dangerous drugs). Most of my statistics are based on the US, unless I say otherwise. (If I say “you, I don’t specifically mean you as the reader, I mean you and in any human being, but I get tired of writing people or humans.. the research for this was exhausting).

Banned Challenges

These Challenges are banned from TikTok. It’s not enough…


The Devious Licks Challenge

The Purpose:

To vandalize or steal from a school, usually the bathroom.

The Dangers:

Kids were recording themselves doing a crime, uploading it to the public… IT’S VIDEO EVIDENCE! SELF ENCRIMINATING!!

The Fallout:

Participants were arrested and charged. Some stole so much they have felony charges. Other fallouts include schools shutting down class-time bathroom breaks, reducing the number of bathrooms in use, especially for the boys. Students that require in class bathroom breaks may be ostracized or have to be physically accompanied by an adult. Special needs kids requiring breaks may have to go to the nurse’s bathroom, which may not be near them, which can increase the chance of an accident…

The Milk Crate Challenge

The Purpose:

Show your skills by climbing a pyramid of milkcrates and making it back down the other side without falling.

The Dangers:

Falling, falling on top of the crates…

The Fallout:

People fell… injuries included but were not limited to:

  • dislocated shoulders
  • rotator cuff tears
  • ACL tears
  • meniscus tears
  • broken wrists
  • spinal cord injuries

Not Banned Challenges

These Challenges are not banned from TikTok as I write this. They may later..


The I know Something You Dont Challenge

The Purpose:

Post embarrassing secrets about something in a funny and lighthearted manner.

The Danger:

This is a form of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can be charged as a crime in some jurisdictions.

The Fallout:

Cyberbullying can result in depression and even suicide.


The Kiss Your Best Friend Challenge

The Purpose:

Teens recorded themselves kissing or attempting to kiss their best friend on the lips without consent.

The Dangers:

Without consent is the key here, this left many feeling violated and even assaulted.

The Fallout:

Many friendships ended, some even reported the friends for harassment when the video posted. It is technically assault when you try to force yourself on another individual. When you post it and don’t have their permission to do so, not only is it in bad taste, it can result in legal repercussions. (This trend tried to make a comeback in the spring earlier this year).


The Blackout Challenge

The Purpose:

Hold your breath until your pass out… recently it got an upgrade and encouraged people to strangle themselves until they pass out.

The Danger:

Strangulation.. plain and simple. My belief is this challenge comes from a syndrome called Autoerotic Asphyxiation. It is not uncommon and is linked to accidental hangings, especially in pediatrics and young adults. Please look it up for more info… add psychology or you might end up with something weird as it is a sexual syndrome.

The Fallout:

The lawsuit I previously mentioned is related to this exact challenge. 2 tweens and a younger child (unrelated) died while attempting this.


The Coronavirus Challenge

The Purpose:

Lick random items in public in hopes of catching C-19… or proving you can’t catch C-19??

The Dangers:

There are worse things than C-19 that live on surfaces of items.

The Fallout:

Thankfully, most of the general population had the common sense to NOT do this, but one person went so far to lick a toilet on an airplane. Imagine having to explain how you got Chlamydia of the throat to your doctor by doing this. So besides complications of some real nasty diseases out there, you can die from embarrassment.


The Ice and Salt Challenge

The Purpose:

You put salt on your skin and then an ice cube on top… then you see how long you can tough it out. 🙄

The Dangers:

Science once again. The salt lowers the temperature of the ice, causing it to burn the skin.

The Fallout:

Most people don’t realize you can get third degree burns from cold, not to mention frost bite.


The Duct Tape Challenge

The Purpose:

You’re supposed to duct tape someone to something (a chair, a wall) and watch them try to free themselves. Fun and hilarity ensue.

The Dangers:

Besides the chance of adhesive allergies… many people fall while trying to free themselves, often resulting in injuries.

The Fallout:

Head injuries galore. A 14 year old did this challenge, except his friends wrapped him like a mummy. He fell into a concrete wall and a metal window frame suffering an aneurysm and crushed his eye socket. He’s currently blind in that eye.


The kiki challenge

The Purpose:

You get out of a moving vehicle (as the passenger) and dance along side the moving vehicle to whatever song is playing.

The Dangers:

Drivers have done this challenge… leaving a moving vehicle unattended is illegal. In several states, it is illegal to be doing ANY activity around a moving vehicle. The physical dangers are numerous, you can still be injured by a vehicle at slow speeds, people even run into poles. It causes car accidents.

The Fallout:

Besides the infractions from the legal issues, injuries are not limited to fractured jaws, being hit by oncoming cars, broking arms and legs, head injuries…


The Skullbreaker Challenge

The Purpose:

As its names states, you cause your victim to fall on the floor. Usually this happens by having a person one each side of the victim. The victim is instructed to jump, while in the air, the other two kick the legs out from the victim, causing them to fall backwards in mid air…. because it’s funny??

The Dangers:

The victims fall on their backs and heads. The name of the challenge is there for a reason.

The Fallout:

As you’d expect, there were numerous injuries reported. 2 teens were charged with a misdemeanor for the injuries they caused to their friend while doing this challenge. Remember, there is no consent by the victim. The victim is 100% a victim.


The Fire Challenge

So this actually started before the big social media boom. A lot of people blame Jackass for this one, among others like shopping cart sledding/jousting. But it really gained hype in 2014.

The Purpose:

Pour flammable liquid on self, light self on fire, hose self off with water OR see how long it takes to put themselves out.

The Dangers:

Besides second and third degree burns, the chemicals and smoke that is inhaled can cause permanent damage to the lungs. AND when you have a liquid accelerant and you add water, the water can cause the accelerant to just splash somewhere else, still on fire, rather than putting it out. Think oil fires in the kitchen.

The Fallout:

Life-threatening and life-altering burns. I can’t find the exact number, numerous. There’s a case where a mother was arrested for aiding her son in making the video, in which he was badly burned.


The Car Surfing Challenge

The Purpose:

Surf your car like Teen Wolf.

Michael J Fox in Teen Wolf

The Dangers:

You’re not a werewolf, you are a squishy human. No super strength, agility, or speed.

The Fallout:

Injuries and 7 deaths in 2016 alone.


The Dry Scoop Challenge

The Purpose:

You ingest a mound of undiluted supplemental energy powder (I don’t know why).

The Dangers:

An overdose of whatever is in it.

The Fallout:

A professional stripper suffered a heart attack at the age of 20 due to this. The medical professionals initially missed it and thought it was only an anxiety attack due to her age and profession.


The Scalp Popping Challenge

The Purpose:

To pull a bunch of hair or have someone pull your hair to “pop” your scalp.

The Dangers:

Your scalp is not a joint, it is not meant to pop.

The Fallout:

Bruising, scalp damage, bald spots, hair loss.

Dr. Youn, dermatologist
The Nutmeg Challenge

The Purpose:

To make a concoction of nutmeg and water to induce a high. 🙄

The Danger:

Science stuff… affects the central nervous system, causing:

  • hallucinations
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • confusion
  • seizures
  • breathing difficulties
  • increased heart rate
  • stomach pain and GI issues

The Fallout:

Nutmeg poising can easily cause organ failure when the individual is taking other medications. This is highly important when a special needs individual is trying these “challenges”. From 2001-2011, in Illinois, there were 32 cases of Nutmeg poisoning, 17 were accidental, 10 were under the age of 13.

Chubbyemu is a PharmD who specializes in toxicology…

The Benadryl Challenge

The Purpose:

Take enough Benadryl to experience hallucinations…. yay (sarcasm).

The Danger:

Benadryl is an antihistamine. The symptom list is long in overdoses, not limited to:

  • increased heart rate
  • delirium psychosis
  • seizures
  • coma
  • death

The Fallout:

Numerous overdoses linked to this challenge including the death of a 15 year old.

Chubbyemu is a PharmD who specializes in toxicology…

The Sunburn Art/Sunburn Tattoo Challenge

The Purpose:

Create art using your body, the sun, and sunscreen/clothing/objects.

The Dangers:

Sunburns literally burn your DNA. This can cause it to mutate which can lead to skin cancer. 1 in 5 Americans develop a form on skin cancer during their lifetime.

The Fallout:

Some of these people have second and even third degree burns from doing this. But others will probably develop skin cancer later because they are repeat posters.


The planking challenge

The Purpose:

To show off your mad planking skills by planking in unusual places.

The Dangers:

Some people went to the extreme and planked in dangerous places.

The Fallout:

Many people were injured as they fell from heights while planking (light posts were a popular spot). An Australian man fell to his death in 2011 while attempting to plank from his balcony.


The Bird Box Challenge

The Purpose:

Because Sandra Bullock navigated rapids while wearing a blindfold, the challenge is to see what every day task you can do blindfolded…

The Dangers:

The Fallout:


The Outlet challenge/The Penny challenge

I can’t believe I’m even writing this right now.

The Purpose:

Partially plug a charger into the wall outlet and drop a coin into the gap.

The Dangers:

The Fallout:

Some teens prove to be larger, hormonal toddlers… If you are lucky, you have a fried outlet or a tripped breaker. This has caused some electrical fires and shocks. No reported electrocutions at this time…


The Hot Water Challenge

The Purpose:

It’s supposed to be a prank involving pouring boiling water onto an unsuspecting or sleeping friend. I don’t understand how ANYONE is this stupid.

Alternatives include drinking boiling water and throwing boiling water into the air during winter to create pretty patterns.

The Dangers:

Obviously burns, life altering burns than can require surgery. Death even. These kids must have never stepped foot into a kitchen.

The Fallout:

Severe burns. The worst being an 11 year old who had to be rushed to the hospital after her friend thew boiling water on her. An 8 year old died after drinking boiling water at a sleep over.


The cha-cha slide driving challenge
The Cha-Cha Slide, NASCAR edition, same effect as “influencers”

The Purpose:

To do the dance move, but with your car… so when it say slide to the left, you turn to the left. Criss cross means swerve back and forth.

The Dangers:

It’s reckless driving.

The Fallout:

Property damage, injury, no deaths yet

(why can’t people just do this on roller skates).


The Frozen Honey Challenge

The Purpose:

To freeze honey and eat it like a popsicle. Yum!

The Dangers:

Although tasty, this can drastically raise ones blood sugar all at once, causing a host of problems. Botulism spores do not die from being frozen, so the more honey you consume, the higher chance you have of getting botulism. Honey in small quantities is known to support respiratory health, in large quantities it does the opposite causing cough and congestion.

The Fallout:

The most common complaint associated with this challenge (and has even been caught on video) is headache and gastric distress including nausea, vomiting, bloating, and diarrhea.


The Silhouette Challenge

The Purpose:

To record yourself with music and a red filter so you can promote body positivity.

The Dangers:

People were manipulating the videos using software to find out the original footage, revealing if they were wearing clothes, reveal faces, and repost them online. This fed into child pornography.

The Fallout:

Ramifications of having nude photos or partially nude photos leaked on the internet. The distribution of child pornography. Need I go on.

Fake or Over Hyped Challenges

I have these in a separate category because they were either elaborately staged or not many people participated in them, but the media hyped them up.

  • Tide Pod Challenge – can be deadly. Very few participants. Was primarily a media mass hysteria
  • Corn Cob Challenge – This involved putting a corn cob on a drill bit and eating it. Was overly hyped, but was connected with a man chipping a tooth and a woman partially scalping herself.
  • Cereal Challenge – pouring cereal and milk into someone’s mouth, then eating it from said mouth. 🤢Rumors this one got banned even though it didn’t catch on. Alternative is they have a pet eat out of their mouth. 🤮
  • The Pee Your Pants Challenge – Billy Maddison, that you?
  • The Poop Pranks – They’re EVERYWHERE, I say fake because they’re done with melted chocolate or Nutella. Usually asking for help regarding a poop incident and to see what the reaction is.
  • Full Face Waxing – this isn’t hair removal wax, but exfoliation hot wax. I mainly see videos from one barber, so I don’t think it’s a big trend. They’re pouring it on the eyes!!! And it’s in the nose and covering the mouth!! Looks like they’re from a budget version of House of Wax… and that’s saying something.
  • Bright Eye Challenge – It started as fake, you can change your eye color naturally with bleach or alcohol drops! Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly, a few people actually tried this and it resulted in blindness/temporary blindness. Thankfully most people had common sense. The original posters did come out and say it wasn’t real, but people still did it…
  • Snorting Condoms – Rumored to be fake, but you know someone out there is dumb enough to do it.

Dangerous DIY “Life Hacks”

YouTube is probably the worst at pushing these with channels like 5 Minute Crafts, Blossom, Instructables and TroomTroom. Not only do the hacks not work, some of them are dangerous or deadly:

  • DIY Vampire teeth – many use nail glue… it’s toxic and it won’t come off
  • Tooth Filing – most of these individuals end up having to get veneers and those have to be replaced periodically. They’re expensive. This ruins your teeth. It’s better to leave cosmetic procedures to the professionals.
  • Erection Cream to Plump your Lips – Besides the chance of skin reactions, this can cause a drop in blood pressure.
  • Lemon Juice for Skin Care – It burns, It’s worse on your face.. don’t get it near your eyes!
  • Diet Cleanses – they’re either a starvation diet or they give you diarrhea. They’re called cleanse for a reason. Either way it will mess up your electrolytes and can make you sick.
  • Fractal Burning – 33 have died since 2016, not to count the near deaths, burns, and house fires.
  • and many more

Excellent Debunkers for DIY:

These individuals are our favorites for posting debunking videos regarding life hacks or trends. Some of these are great to watch with the kids, others you may want to screen first.

Ann Reardon, food scientist, tackles a lot of the cooking and kitchen hacks. Language safe
Dr. Mike “reacts” to medical hacks. Language usually safe (guests may not be)
Dr Youn tries out viral hacks and trends. Languages safe
NerdECrafter has followed “crafting guidelines” from diy channels and shows you the real results.
ImBrandonFarris tests hacks in funny and ridiculous ways to show how stupid these hacks are. Language mostly ok…
KallMeKris does reacts and tests out some hacks. Some swearing, some is censored.
Naomi Jon, a German Youtuber, tries out beauty trends and orders random stuff from questionable sites like Wish. Extreme language, no filters… but so funny.
Brad Mondo, professional hair dresser, reacts to hair videos and tries out viral trends and hacks on his dummies so you don’t have to. Bleeped out language, lots of bleeps.
Khaby Lame, a TikTok star who exposes the hacks as what they are… ridiculous. (This is not his channel, he doesn’t have a YouTube channel). No speech, generally.

Ending

I feel my IQ has dropped while writing this. I forgot how I was going to close this. I apologize. This stuff is brain melting. Rather than returning to this just so I can write a closing statement, I’m going to hope you can figure out what I’m trying to say. I don’t want to return to this, EVER.

“Learn from the mistakes from others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

And then I was all ready to post this and it wouldn’t post… so I brought up a second tab to see when my last save point was and it was about an hour into writing this page… Guys, I lost hours of work. Thankfully I have my initial tab open so I’m just sitting here copying and pasting, saving. Hoping it doesn’t happen again…. It took me 1 hour and 45 min to copy and paste everything. Please be understanding if there are tons of errors. It is late and I have been working on this for 12 hours now. Fingers crossed it actually posts this time.

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