14-year-old Skylar Fish was severely hurt while taking part in the popular internet challenge, “the duct tape challenge.” Fish smashed his face against a window frame and wall, crushing his left eye socket and causing a brain aneurysm. Although he was able to survive, Fish may never regain sight in his right eye.
A challenge in which participants are tied up with duct-tape then try to break free, the duct tape challenge carries great potential for injuries as the participant’s arms and legs are firmly tied together and they will not be able to protect themselves in the case they fall. While the duct tape challenge started as a trendy activity to try with friends and post on social media sites, results of the challenge spanned from acute head injuries to permanent eyesight loss, proving the duct tape challenge was not a mere laughing matter.
“When trends such as the famous amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) ice bucket challenge or the duct tape challenge go viral, people are generally eager to participate without much hesitation,” Jiwhan Moon (11) said. “However, sometimes people do not realize the consequences of participating in such challenges, and it is unfortunate that individuals are coerced into doing something solely for pleasure when it can actually be dangerous. It is important for people to be fully aware of the potential consequences before they hastily follow the social norm.”
However, the duct tape challenge is not the only popular social media trend to present severe backlashes. In the Kylie Jenner challenge, teenagers sucked in shot glasses or bottles to swell their lips up to double their size, trying to emulate model Kylie Jenner’s pouty lips. However, in many cases the results were far from “desirable” and instead painful, with severe bruising around the mouth and even cases where participants’ lips turned blue or purple. In yet another challenge called the cinnamon challenge, participants filmed themselves swallowing a spoonful of ground cinnamon under a minute without drinking anything, and this also unsurprisingly resulted in problems like gagging, vomiting, and breathing difficulties.
“At first, with social media trends like planking and the ALS ice bucket challenge, I thought [these challenges] were for a good cause or at least a good laugh,” said Hailey Ahn (10), avid social media participant. “However, when I see recent trends like the condom challenge, I find myself cringing rather than laughing and worrying about what could go wrong.”
With trending hashtags on Twitter as well as popular videos on YouTube and Facebook, social media trends easily catch the eyes of many teenagers. Some social media trends like #BlackLivesMatter and #BringBackOurGirls have viable meaning to fix social injustices, but recent viral trends like the duct tape challenge and cinnamon challenge do nothing but harm the participant, yet teenagers still feel a need to follow these trends because they believe taking part of them will gain them more “likes” or views. Although new strange trends will continue to come up as people find creative risky ways to gain entertainment, in the bigger picture, the negative health implications cannot be ignored for some social attention and participants must take much caution.