Online challenges sell like hotcakes among teens today! First came the ice bucket challenge, then the gallon challenge and then the cinnamon challenge. Some teenagers also started with the salt and ice challenge where you first put salt in your hands and then place ice on top. This causes a burning sensation, which you are supposed to bear until all the salt and ice melt away! In recent news, a so-called “friend” poured boiling water on a girl while she was sleeping. Why? Again, because of a so-called ‘online challenge’.
The latest craze in the “online challenge world” has seen children biting into packets of laundry detergent. The motivation for doing so? “Well, because they were bright and shiny!” says one of the teens involved. And that is not the only thing they have been doing with them; they have also been cooking these detergents in frying pans and swallowing the frothing mixture in one shot. This ‘tide pod challenge’ has really taken the internet by storm. Alfred Aleguas, the managing director of Florida Poison Information Centre observes, “You are really taking a chance and to what end?”. Children can literally die while pulling such stunts.
Youtube has also not supported this crazy challenge and has said that it would “work to quickly remove flagged videos that violate policies”. Youtube’s spokesperson Jessica Mason has said “YouTube’s Community Guidelines prohibit content that’s intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm”.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission of the United States of America has issued a warning to parents so that they do not let their children consume the liquid detergent packets. The agency has said in a recent news that the capsules which the teenagers are consuming, are colorful and good smelling and as a result, the children are attracted towards them. It is not even certain how this tide pod challenge got popular in the online world. Whatever is the case, this sure is dangerous and can cause a lot of harm to the teenagers involved.
What is surprising is the number of teenagers who have already consumed the product, despite the clearly mentioned warnings and good old common sense! But just for an internet challenge that puts them in a spotlight among digital peers, some teenagers were ready to risk their lives. In 2016, the United States Poison Control received reports of about 10,500 children who had consumed this capsule; all these children were under the age of 5. Last year alone there were 220 teenagers who were exposed to similar dangers; but what was alarming was that 25% of the cases were intentional. This year in less than a month, 37 cases have been reported already and half of them were intentional! 19-year-old Marc Pagan who did it on a dare, despite knowing better told CBS news, “A lot of people were just saying how stupid I was or how and why would I be willing to do that. No one should be putting anything like that in their mouths, you know?”
Teenagers who have consumed the tide pods have been hospitalized. They have vomited, have had breathing difficulties and in some cases have also lost their consciousness. This is just the start, if children continue to indulge in such extreme misadventures in search of fame on social media, consequences can be worse. According to a report; since 2012, 5 children have lost their lives because of taking up this challenge.
What actually happens when the tide pods enter your body? There are two main problems that occur, one in your lungs when you inhale the detergent and one in your stomach when you digest the same. There is a change in blood pressure and heart rate and as a result, you can lose your consciousness or even start having seizures. Some teenagers claim to be fine even after taking up this challenge, but underlying medical conditions occur such as asthma or breathing problems can cause a lot of harm in the future!
The parent company Procter and Gamble spokesperson Petra Renck said in a statement ‘Tide pods are meant to clean clothes. They are not to be played with, under whatever circumstance, even if it is meant as a joke. Like all other household cleaning products, they must be used properly and stored safely.’ The company has also released a public service statement on social media where New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski is shown discouraging children from playing with these laundry detergent packets.
Parents, it is up to you to discourage your child from taking up such dangerous challenges. Don’t allow the online world to totally devour your children’s time; find the right balance between the virtual world and the real world for your teenager. Children today believe in social media as the real world; looking for instant attention and fame online! Don’t let this thought take over your kid’s mind. Sit down as a family if needed, take up some resolutions this new year, learn to communicate better with your teens. Understanding them is the only solution. In the 21st century, you just never know when your child could come under the “online influence” and end up doing something extremely ill-advised.