4 Internet Challenges You Shouldn't Try (and 2 You Should)

Fueled by social media, some “I dare you” challenges are fun—while others pose serious health threats.

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Internet challenges are just another way for people—mostly kids, teens and young adults—to use social media to gain followers, views and popularity. The idea is to post videos on YouTube or images on Instagram and Facebook pages showing you and your friends doing, well, foolish stuff. Some are safe and harmless—like The Ice Bucket Challenge, which has raised millions of dollars for A.L.S. research. But others pose serious health hazards since people put themselves at risk for burns, choking and worse. Here are three to skip and, if you’re up for a challenge, two to try.

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Tide pod challenge

What to Do: Film yourself putting a Tide pod—a small packet of detergent intended for use in your washing machine only—in your mouth and post the video on YouTube or other social media site. In some videos, teens are seen biting or chewing on the pods.   

What It Does: Once the outer layer of the packet dissolves or is punctured, concentrated detergent is released, which can burn the mouth, throat and digestive system.

The Risks: Swallowing detergent from these pods can cause an array of symptoms, from vomiting and diarrhea to serious breathing problems, seizures and coma. In some cases, ingestion may even result in death.

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The Salt and Ice Challenge

What to Do: Wet one spot on your body—typically the arm—sprinkle salt on it and then press down with an ice cube for as long as you can. The one who can stand the pain longest is the winner.

What It Does: The combination of ice and salt removes heat from the body in the targeted area. A chemical reaction between the salt and ice cube in effect makes the ice colder and more damaging to the skin.

The Risks: Frostbite, cold burns and nerve damage, which can even lead to amputation if done on the fingers. Severe skin damage may not be evident for a day or two. 

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The Cinnamon Challenge

What to Do: Swallow a tablespoon of ground cinnamon in 60 seconds or less without drinking any liquids.

What It Does: Quickly triggers a gag reflex and burning sensation in the throat. Makes you reflexively inhale the cinnamon, causing most of the problems below.

The Risks: Choking, vomiting, pulmonary damage, pneumonia, asthma attack and allergic reactions. Some severe cases have caused suffocation and a collapsed lung.

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The Kylie Jenner Challenge

What to Do: Place a shot glass over your lips and suck for as long as you can. This supposedly creates lips that are as plump and lip-tastic as reality show star Kylie Jenner’s—except they’re not.

What It Does: When sucking on the shot glass, the pressure makes the blood vessels in the lips fill with blood, histamine and leukotrienes, causing them to swell.

The Risks: Sucking on the shot glass for too long or too hard can cause blood vessels in the lips to break, potentially causing blistering, bruising and infection. Cuts and scarring may result if the shot glass breaks due to pressure.

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The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

What to Do: Accept the challenge from a friend, or challenge yourself. Next, take a video of yourself, or have a friend do it, as you dump a bucket of ice water over your head. Upload your video to social media, like YouTube and Facebook. Tag/challenge three friends to take the challenge.

What It Does: Gives you a wet head, but since the challenge is done every August you shouldn’t be too uncomfortable.

The Benefit: In 2014, its first year, the ALS Association raised $115 million over eight weeks.

Image Credit: Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. Some rights reserved.


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The Mannequin Challenge

What to Do: Play hip-hop group Rae Sremmurd’s top hit “Black Beatles” and stay frozen, like a mannequin, in a dramatic pose as the song plays in the background. Have someone videotape you at different angles. Remember, no moving.

What It Does: This is a harmless challenge, but it does help people gain followers, views and reposts on social media.

The Benefit: It’s a good time and gives you something fun to look back on, especially when posing with friends and family. Celebrities, including former First Lady Michelle Obama, took the challenge, posing at the White House with the Cleveland Cavaliers—the 2016 NBA Champions.

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