Do you remember the “cinnamon challenge” a couple of years back? I wrote a blog about it, and also asked teens about it in the classroom. Back then, teens were trying to swallow cinnamon powder without water, leading to choking, which teens thought was oh so funny, and in some cases hospitalization from inhaling the powder into their lungs. Well, that one has faded, and now YouTube and Facebook video postings of the “fire challenge” have grabbed the attention of young people. In this challenge, a teen pours rubbing alcohol on his skin, and sets himself (usually, it’s a “him”) on fire. Other versions involve spraying one’s body with an aerosol can or dousing with nail polish remover before striking a match.
I know…WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?!! Well, apparently, according to one blistered and burned student, “I don’t know; I wasn’t thinking really.” That 15-year-old said that the videos didn’t show the end result. Just four days ago, another 15-year-old boy was severely burned doing the stunt, and was airlifted to a hospital.
As one article said: “It’s impossible to guess what ‘the kids’ will dream up next — as long as they have cameras and underdeveloped prefrontal cortexes, there’s really no saying.” The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain responsible for weighing consequences, planning, distinguishing right from wrong, and determining socially appropriate behavior. It doesn’t fully develop until the mid-20s. As I say in my parent workshops, it’s YOUR job to be their pre-frontal cortex for a few more years. So review that article (linked above) entitled, “A comprehensive guide to YouTube’s dumbest and most dangerous teen trends.” Then talk to your teen today about using his or her head before letting peer pressure get the upper hand.