The dangerous social media challenges put our children at risk

A 13-year-old boy died after overdosing on Benadryl for a TikTok challenge. Several dangerous trends on TikTok have resulted in serious injuries and deaths lately. Victims of these challenges are as young as eight years old

The death of a teenager who overdosed on allergy medication while playing an online game has shed light on the dangers of social media challenges.

Thirteen-year-old Jacob Stevens, from Columbus, Ohio, swallowed more than a dozen Benadryl pills while his friends filmed to see what would happen.

His body then began to convulse within minutes. Within a few hours, his organs began to shut down and his brain became unresponsive. Stevens died after six days on a ventilator.

Stevens is the third known victim of the “Benadryl Challenge,” a deadly viral TikTok game said to induce hallucinations. Also in 2020, a 15-year-old Oklahoma girl died from an overdose on the pills.

Social media challenges started out as fun initiatives to raise awareness about chronic diseases, like the Ice Bucket Challenge, and have now morphed into sinister and dangerous trends.

The 13-year-old from Ohio was remembered as a fun-loving and caring boy who could make anyone’s day. 13-year-old Jacob Stevens took 12 to 14 Benadryl pills, causing him to die of an overdose

One of the most dangerous, the Blackout Challenge, involves teens intentionally restricting their breathing by choking themselves with a belt, rope, or similar object. It caused more than 80 deaths when it first emerged and caused another 15 over the past year.

And the Skull Breaker Challenge, in which two contestants intentionally attempt to trip a third person and bang their head on the ground, has caused multiple deaths and resulted in criminal charges for contestants.

Others that have resulted in deaths or injuries include drinking hand sanitizer to “get drunk”, taking sleeping pills and seeing who can stay up the longest.

Blackout Challenge Arriani Arroyo, 9, died from participating in the Blackout Challenge, which was recently revived on TikTok

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Also known as the “choke game” or “pass-out challenge,” this social media trend involves the participant intentionally restricting their breathing with a belt, rope, or similar object.

The challenge dates back to TikTok and dates back to 2008, when 82 deaths were confirmed, according to the CDC.

However, it has seen a resurgence recently.

A Bloomberg Businessweek report from late 2022 linked at least 15 deaths in children aged 12 and under to the challenge in the past 18 months. Five other children between the ages of 13 and 14 also died.

The victims were up to eight years old.

Two other deaths were confirmed in 2023: 12-year-old Tristan Casson of Ohio and 12-year-old Milagros Soto of Argentina.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a list of signs that might indicate someone is attempting the blackout challenge, including bloodshot eyes, stains on the neck, severe headaches and disorientation after spending time alone.

Kia Challenge Ahjanae Harper, a 14-year-old Kia Challenge victim, recently gave birth to a baby girl before losing her life. The four teenagers were killed after allegedly stealing a car using the “Kia Boyz” TikTok hack, which allows children to hot-wire a car that crashed slightly in Buffalo

A TikTok trend that emerged in 2021 led to a surge in stolen Kia and Hyundai car models in the United States.

Dubbed the “Kia Challenge,” users are shown how to steal certain Kia and Hyundai models by removing a plastic panel under the steering column and using a USB cable.

This has resulted in injuries and deaths to children, especially children who are not old enough to drive and who have lost control of the vehicles.

WIVB in Buffalo, New York reported that four local teenagers, ages 14 to 19, were killed in October after colliding with a vehicle they stole as part of the challenge. Two other occupants survived, including the 16-year-old driver.

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The victims included 14-year-old Ahjanae Harper, who had given birth to a baby girl shortly before the accident.

Skull Crusher Challenge

This stunt challenge, which first emerged in 2020, has led to an increase in serious injuries and deaths in the US and UK.

While the videos appear harmless at first, they take a dangerous turn.

In the challenge, three people stand next to each other. They all say they’re going to jump in the air, but the two end up not jumping. Instead, they kick the middle person’s legs out from under them, causing that person to fall.

The name “skull crusher” refers to the victims’ heads, which hit the ground as they fall.

The challenge began in Spain when two students filmed themselves performing the prank on an unsuspecting third participant.

Children fall to the ground after being kicked during the “Skull Cracking Challenge”. Kids participate in the new “Skull Crusher Challenge” conquering TicTok. The exercise involves three participants jumping straight up, with the two people on the side stepping in to knock the person in the middle off their feet and onto their head

Two New Jersey students were prosecuted in 2020 for seriously injuring a classmate in the challenge, including third-degree aggravated assault and third-degree endangerment of an injured victim, the Washington Post reported.

The challenge has been linked to two deaths in 2021 in Brazil.

In a newsroom alert, TikTok said: “We do not allow content that promotes or mimics dangerous challenges that could lead to injury.

“Indeed, it is a violation of our Community Guidelines and we will continue to remove this type of content from our platform.

In the hand sanitizer challenge, users drink the cleanser to get drunk

“Nobody wants their friends or family to get hurt when they’re shooting a video or trying a stunt.

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“It’s not funny — and since we’re removing this type of content, it certainly won’t make you famous on TikTok.”

Hand Sanitization Challenge

The search “Drink Hand Sanitizer Challenge” has more than 64 million views on TikTok. It was also linked to four deaths and six seizures in 2020, the CDC reported.

The CDC reported four deaths and six seizures in 2020.

The agency reported that 15 adults in Arizona and New Mexico were hospitalized for methanol poisoning after consuming alcohol-based sanitizers between May and June 2020.

During that time, 62 calls were made to poison control centers for cases of methanol poisoning from alcohol-based disinfectants.

The victims were between 21 and 65 years old.

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Benadryl Challenge

The “Benadryl Challenge” involves taking large amounts of the over-the-counter allergy medication to see how long you can stay awake and to induce hallucinations.

The challenge has resulted in overdose deaths, including 13-year-old Jacob Stevens this month.

A case study conducted on a 14-year-old victim found that the victim had no evidence of medical or psychiatric conditions that would have led to suicidal thoughts.

“The manner of death was accidental,” the report said.

After reports of hospitalizations and deaths in 2020, the Food and Drug Administration warned against taking over-the-counter allergy medications like Benadryl in higher than the recommended dose.

“Taking higher than recommended doses of the common over-the-counter (OTC) allergy drug diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can lead to serious heart problems, seizures, coma, or even death,” the agency said.

Benadryl, a Johnson & Johnson drug, issued a statement calling the trend “dangerous” and calling for it to be “stopped immediately.”