Have you heard about the Tide Pods Challenge? Kids eat a plastic laundry detergent pod, film it and post on social media. Begun as a joke, the Tide Pods Challenge has become a dangerous activity poison control centers are warning parents about.
The Tide Pods Challenge is dangerous because it burns from the mouth cavity down into the stomach. It can lead to choking, loss of consciousness and seizures. The latter, if not stopped in time, can lead to brain damage.
What makes the Tide Pods Challenge so scary for parents is that it’s gone viral. As more kids try it and post their videos to social media, the challenge spreads. If your child spends time online, they've probably already heard about it. But while the Tide Pods Challenge is popular right now, it isn’t the only game or challenge threatening our kids’ safety online.
If your child spends time online, they've probably already heard about it.
The Blue Whale Game was created to “cleanse the society from a bio waste.” Its agents recruit kids via social media or kids search them by posting #bluewhalefindme. The game consists of 50 tasks. Each of them is fiercer than the previous one: from listening to a heavy music at 4 a.m. to cutting oneself. The last task is to commit suicide and film it or make it go viral via live streaming.
The Flatliner or “knockout challenge” is another game. To get a euphoric rush, kids strangle themselves until they faint. The rush is supposed to come when the consciousness regains; however, some kids have died during the challenge.
The Ice and Salt Challenge is a game where kids place salt and ice on the skin, which leads to frostbite. The task is to bear the pain as long as possible and share the pictures on social media. Kids taking part in the challenge have gotten serious burns, marks and scars as a result.
As frightening as these challenges are for parents, there are some ways to keep your kids safe online.
Tips for keeping kids safe from harmful challenges online
Ask your kids if they have heard about the Tide Pod Challenge and what they think of it. If you don’t like the answer, explain all possible health damages this game can cause. If your kid has already tried this game, medical intervention is a must. Contact your local Crisis Call Center or Lifetime Crisis Chat.
If you find a picture of a blue whale, look through your kid’s social media accounts to see if there are any messages from so-called Blue Whale recruiters. If you suspect your child is into the challenge, first learn everything about it. Then have a serious talk with your child.
The Blue Whale’s recruiters threaten to hurt kids’ families if they open up about the challenge. Try to assure your child that the family won’t be hurt since the police are aware and will protect them. Do not judge but assure them they have your back.
Make sure your child has a trusted therapist to talk to since this challenge involves cyberbullying and abuse to manipulate kids.
Talk to your kids about the risks of choking. Explain that when strangling someone, it can lead to death — even if they do it as part of a game. Keep an eye out for bruises or marks on the neck, and broken-blood vessels on the face and eyelids. If you see them on your child, take your child to the doctor immediately.
Like the other challenges, it’s important to talk to your child about the Ice and Salt Challenge. Dwell on possible health damages and even fatal precedents. If your child participates, you’ll see the telltale sign of frostbite and your child will need immediate medical attention.
One thing is absolutely clear: Parents aren't alone when dealing with online dangers that threaten their kids. But the best way to prevent harm to your kids is to raise your personal awareness of the risks so you can teach your kids how to be safe online.