Life and Death Games Students Play That You Don't Know About
The dangers are close to home.
“Panic settled and the pain set in when I realized he was gone; there was nothing anyone could do,” said Melanie Anderson in a recent interview with the CBC.
February 6th 2021, Melanie Anderson, a single mother from Saskatoon, went upstairs to check on her 13-year-old son Cash before bed, only to find him lifeless on the floor of his bedroom closet.
In the days leading up to that evening, Melanie had talked to Cash about what she thought was a hickey or a bruise on his neck, unaware that he had started experimenting with a dangerous new TikTok trend known as the Blackout Challenge.
The Blackout Challenge encourages participants to enlist the help of a friend or objects like shoelaces and belts to asphyxiate until they temporarily lose consciousness.
Social Media fueled games like the Blackout Challenge are common. With the fast and fleeting nature of apps like TikTok and SnapChat, mixed with the subversive and changing names of these games, staying up-to-date on these high-risk scenarios is a challenge of its own.
To help, we’ve compiled a list of the most recent and dangerous Social Media challenges you may not know about.
Aptly named, videos of this challenge are hard to watch. Innocuous at first, two students line up beside an unsuspecting peer and pressure them to jump as high as they can. In mid-air, the student who jumped has each leg swiftly kicked out from under them, and they crash to the ground, frequently landing on their head.
Victims are left with injuries that range from concussions to intracranial hemorrhaging, or broken bones. The prank has been used as a form of bullying, leading to schools worldwide hosting assemblies and student interventions to slow the trend. TikTok has been removing the many viral videos of this challenge, but clips are still widely accessible via YouTube.
Synonyms: Tripping Jump Challenge
Symptoms to Watch: blood-shot eyes, dilated pupils, memory loss, clumsiness or trouble with balance, persistent headache, loss of interest or appetite, nausea, trouble staying awake
Good Kids High
Most commonly known as the Blackout Challenge, this viral trend has kids chasing the high that follows a temporary lapse of consciousness. Lack of oxygen to the brain leads to a rush of endorphins and a sense of euphoria, but can easily lead to permanent brain damage or death.
A CDC study shows that the Blackout Challenge has claimed no less than 82 children over the past 12 years. 93% of parents did not know about the game until after their child had passed away.
Choking yourself is difficult, so the challenge often involves a friend strangling the participant or using belts, ropes and cords. The latter is often done alone and is the most significant cause for concern. When unconscious, victims usually fall forward, and the challenge quickly turns into an accidental hanging or strangulation.
Synonyms: the Choking Game, the Elevator Game, Flatliner, Space Monkey, Pass-Out Challenge, the Fainting Game, Speed Dreaming
Symptoms to Watch: bruises around the neckline or any strange markings resembling hickeys
Social Media based “get-high” challenges are also on the rise. Starting in May of 2020, a series of viral TikTok videos introduced the Benadryl Challenge. As the name suggests, the challenge involves the deliberate overconsumption of the common antihistamine. The subsequent “tripp” or “fade” is filmed and shared with friends.
Dr. David Juurlink, Head of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Toronto, has seen kids take up to 10 times the recommended dose. Large doses directly affect the heart, and in many cases, severe seizures, hospitalization and overdose deaths have been reported.
TikTok has been trying to remove Benadryl Challenge videos. However, their viral nature means that millions of children worldwide have been exposed to the dangers.
Synonyms: Popping Benadryl, Benatrip, Drill, Benafog, Benadryled, Diph
Symptoms to Watch: slurred speech, impaired motor skills, agitation, lethargy, sleepiness, hallucinations, blurred vision, dry eyes or mouth, constipation, difficulty urinating or sweating
The Kiki Challenge, which has kids step out of slowly moving vehicles to dance along to Drake's hit song “In My Feelings,” or the Salt and Ice Challenge, which uses the chemical reaction of salt and ice to burn the skin have also been common. While no deaths have been reported from these challenges, severe injuries, broken bones, 3rd-degree burns, and permanent nerve damage have been widely reported.
So much for snakebites.
Snakebites, spit-balls or being dared to pull the fire alarm pale compared to some of the schoolyard games of today. Kids who challenge or exploit other children through these pranks have been charged with assault, manslaughter or 2nd-degree murder. The danger of these viral challenges is real, present and not without consequence.
Pressure to fit in has always been a complicated aspect of growing up. With more outside influencers than ever in a child’s development, it is vital that we stay aware and in open dialogue about the potential dangers of Social Media. Active listening, being careful not to judge or jump to conclusions, and continually engaging with our children about their interests and activities go a long way.
As Melanie Anderson put it, “you are not invading their privacy; you are keeping your children alive.”
A little overwhelming?
Protecting 500,000+ students, Student Aware is a platform we’ve developed in full partnership with school boards, to evaluate online behaviour and identify children at risk of suicide, exploitation cyberbullying, radicalization, violence, and abuse.
As trends emerge, Student Aware is your first line of defence. Affordably priced and deployable in 10 minutes, why wait another day? Join us in our mission to keep every student safe and out of harm's way.