Social media "challenges" cause concern

By Jade Cunningham |

Published 05/20 2014 08:20AM

Updated 05/20 2014 09:07AM

Social media plays a huge part in daily life, but just how protected is your child?

NBC 6's Jade Cunningham takes a closer look at the dangers of one site, and why some are concerned.

"We fall victim to all types of peer pressure, good or bad," said local high school student Colbren Thomas.

YouTube challenges, a growing trend with possible deadly consequences.

"They say it burns and I'm thinking to myself, why would you want me to try the challenges?" said another high school student Kelsey Davis.

The videos show people doing things like vodka shots to the eye, or trying to swallow cinnamon.

They may look harmless, but the effects life changing.

"It really scares me, not only as a healthcare professional, but as a parent," said Director of the Louisiana Poison Center, Mark Ryan. "Some of them can be lethal."

With the help of social media, the videos go viral.

More people are trying it themself.

"These things happen in little pockets," said Ryan. "But they happen all over the country and sometimes they start to happen almost instantly."

24-hours of video is posted every minute on YouTube.

Because of the high volume of videos being posted, not all can be viewed ahead of time for security measures.

So how sure are you that your child is protected?

Seeing the videos, is easy.

For example, if you're curious about the cinnamon challenge, just type it into the search field, and almost 700,000 videos will pop up.

Click on pretty much any one, and within seconds your child can be watching (or trying) one of these dangerous trends.

Even local students say they see it often.

"I guess they try and get enjoyment out of it," said Thomas. "They try and show people that they took it and they're up to the challenge."

"Just because we say I might not do that, or that's dangerous for your health, doesn't mean they won't do it," said highschooler Hunter Horton. "It might make them think about it, but I think a lot of times that pressure of doing it outweighs their thinking."

The trends seem endless, but they have a solution.

"You have to have a backbone," said high school student Tanerica Moton. "You have to think, that if you're going to do this, how is it going to affect me. Not just, oh is it going to make me look cool for two minutes?"

"If you don't want to do it, don't do it," said Davis. "But if you think that you want to do it, then it's your choice."

Healthcare professionals agree.

"If there's any doubt in your mind about safety, don't do it," said Ryan. "Your friends, your parents, we want you around."

The trends are no longer challenges, but risks.

As social media fuels their popularity, many hope the videos will show others just how dangerous they can be.

Injuries from the trends can range from collapsed lungs to burnt corneas, to even death.

Health officials say the best thing to do is talk to your children.

If you have questions, you should call the local poison center at 1-800-222-1222.

You can watch some of the trends in the video above, but be warned, some of the video may be disturbing to watch.

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