Think before you accept viral Internet challenges

Think before you accept viral Internet challenges
Teens with behavioural problems are more likely to pick up internet challenges. ©Shutterstock.

Internet challenges can be addictive but are dangerous for your health too. Read on to know which online challenges are a complete no go.

Written by Nayonika Chakraborty |Published : July 18, 2019 7:01 PM IST

Today, even if a death invitation is posted on the Internet with the caption 'challenge yourself', chances are some would actually try it. It may sound insane to quite a few people. But images and videos floating around on the Internet is proof enough that there are people who would go through with extremely harmful activities willingly. Be it the Ice Bucket Challenge, the Choking Game or the deadly Blue Whale Challenge that killed many, you will always find willing followers of Internet challenges.

So then, why do people attempt these clearly ill-advised and dangerous Internet challenges? A group of French researchers tried to find an answer to this question through a four-year study. They focused on the Choking Game Challenge. The research, published in the journal Pediatrics, suggested that there is a link between these challenges and an underlying psychological disorder in teens. It was also found that people who attempted this challenge were two times more likely to be depressed or have a conduct disorder. This group included teens with behavioural problems.

Researchers said that kids who go through with such activities are also aware that it is not a good idea. But they are influenced by others on the Internet to try it. These activities also act as a coping mechanism for some distressed adolescents to ease their mental conflict.

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But whether one uses it as a coping mechanism or as an online spectacle or under peer pressure, some online challenges have harmful outcomes. It can harm your mental health and also cause serious lifelong problems. Several experts have said that you should avoid these dangerous Internet challenges for various reasons.

Sure, some online challenges can be extremely fun and harmless. But all are not so. This is why it is important to identify the ones you need to stay away from.

Here we tell you about some viral Internet challenges and why trying them is a very bad idea.

The Cinnamon Challenge

This challenge has been around for quite some time now and involves swallowing a spoonful of cinnamon in a minute without having water in between. This may not seem too extreme at first thought but can actually cause several health issues.

Cinnamon dries the mouth and throat by forming a coat over them. It can induce coughing, gagging or vomiting. Inhaling cinnamon is another risk of this challenge. It can even lead to pneumonia or a collapsed lung with life-long damages.

The choking Game

This challenge can be found on the Internet under different names like the Pass-Out Challenge or the Space Monkey challenge. But it is essentially the same. It includes hyperventilating until you feel light-headed. Then you have to hold your breath or ask someone to choke you. The underlying goal is to intentionally cut off oxygen to the brain and have a brief euphoric moment. This can sometimes lead to loss of consciousness.

This is one of the most dangerous online challenges. It can cause hypoxic seizures on the first attempt itself. Depending on the surroundings of where the challenge is done, it can also cause significant trauma. Repeating this challenge can increase the risk of chronic seizures and a stroke or a collapsed lung are other dangers.

The Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge

This particular challenge is popular among teenage girls. It leads to more pronounced pouting lips. The process involves placing your lips in a shot glass and sucking the air out to get more plump lips.

The suction inside the bottle can lead to broken blood vessels in your lips. Another major risk is of the glass breaking under the pressure. If this is the case, it could give you cuts and lacerations serous enough to require stitches and leave a scar on your face.

The Detergent Pod Challenge

This challenge gained a lot of buzz on the Internet in the early weeks of 2018 with numerous teens posting their video online and daring others to try it. The challenge included eating a pod laundry detergent.

Immediate health problems include vomiting, lethargy, gasping and esophageal burns with worse effects if inhaled. While more minor effects include respiratory and GI discomfort, it can also cause seizures, comas or even brain death. Health risks of this challenge also include chemical burns leading to permanent feeding tube damage or loss of taste. It can cause greater harm in younger kids as they are more vulnerable to the toxic material.

The Salt and Ice Challenge

This Internet challenge looks simple but can actually cause permanent damage. It includes putting salt on your skin and then placing ice on top of it to see how long you can withstand it.

The harms caused by this challenge is very similar to getting a frostbite. It can cause permanent nerve damage as a result of second- or third-degree burns. This may lead to other symptoms like loss of sensation and hair growth in the affected area. Another possible concern is scarring because of tissue build-up. The scale of injuries can be greater in younger kids as their skin is thinner and more sensitive.

The Ice Bucket Challenge

This challenge has raised significant funds for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association but has also been linked to a few deaths already. The challenge involves pouring a bucket full of ice and water over yourself.

This challenge can cause cardiac arrhythmias especially if you hold your breath while immersing yourself in the cold water. The potential of this is even greater for those who are already suffering with cardiovascular disorders or are on certain drugs such as antihistamines, antipsychotics and antibiotics.