Dangerous YouTube dares have been sweeping the nation over the last few years. Teens are videotaping themselves attempting outrageous activities and then uploading them to the site to gain popularity. While some like the “Ice Bucket Challenge” last summer to raise ALS awareness was seemingly harmless, many of these challenges run the risk of serious health consequences and even death, pediatricians warn. Emergency rooms nationwide are seeing more and more teens with injuries that result from emulating what they see on YouTube videos.
Back in 2012, many began to record themselves swallowing a spoonful of cinnamon powder without drinking water in an attempt to do so in less than one minute. It gain popularity because those unable to handle the spice would cough up a large cloud of orange smoke. Doctors warned that the “Cinnamon Challenge” could cause choking, difficulty breathing and respiratory problems. Another risky challenge was the salt and ice challenge in which risk-takers would sprinkle salt on a specific area of the body and placing ice cubes on top. The challenge — “designed” to test pain tolerance — creates a burning sensation due to the chemical reaction of the salt with water on the skin. As a result, the skin is susceptible to serious burns and frostbite-like reactions. The list of crazy stunts in unending with the latest craze — the “Duct Tape Challenge.”
A YouTube search for “Duct Tape Challenge” yielded more than 224,000 videos of people doing it; several videos have more than 2 million views. In this challenge, people wrap themselves in duct tape, then try to break free while someone else films it.
A 14-year-old from Washington State says he is lucky to be alive after taking part in the challenge. The teen and his friends had tried the duct tape challenge before, taping one another to a pole, without injury. But on Jan. 16, things didn’t go as planned. After his arm and legs were duct taped while he was standing up, the teen tried to break out of the duct tape, but fell face first, hitting his head on a window frame and slamming into the concrete on the ground. He ended up crushing his eye socket which pinched off nerves in his eye. He also suffered a brain aneurysm and ended up with 48 staples in his head. It is not yet clear whether the teen will ever get his vision back in that eye.
I often wonder what drives so many to partake in these dangerous activities when participants have already suffered negative consequences. Experts say that young adults succumb to peer pressure. They want to look cool, be popular and do what others are doing. They love an audience and social media is a means to get nationwide attention. They see themselves as invincible so are willing to engage in risky behavior.
I encourage young adults to resist the peer pressure; stop and think before engaging in these dangerous challenges. And, the message to parents is talk to their kids about the dangers of these challenges. Help them understand that what appears a seemingly fun game is no laughing matter; it can result in serious or life threatening consequences.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.