Twenty Dangerous Teen Fads You Should Know About
From vodka eyeballing to ball tapping to rainbow parties and more, many teens are endangering their lives with risky behaviors. Read on for more dangerous fads, then have a conversation with your kids.
The Choking Game
It’s been around for years, and it’s still deadly as ever. Kids literally strangle themselves using either an object like a belt or a rope or their own hands to experience a momentary high. They can pass out and hurt themselves, cause brain damage or even death. And if all that isn’t enough to keep you up at night, a new study conducted by the Oregon Public Health Division reports that middle school kids who play the “Choking Game” (also known as Knock Out, Space Monkey, Flatlining or the Fainting Game) are more likely to try other worrisome activities. The study showed that 6 percent of the state’s teens admitted to playing this so-called game, boys and girls seemed to participate more or less equally, and participants were more likely to be sexually active and drug abusers. What’s more, girls who copped to playing were more apt to gamble and eat poorly, while boys were more likely to be exposed to violence. The study’s lead researcher, Robert Nystrom, recommends parents be on alert for warning signs of the game, including unusual marks on the neck, red dots around the eyelids (a sign of hemorrhaging) and unexplained headaches. To learn more, parents can visit Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play (GASP), a group that aims to raise awareness of — and put an end to — the game for good.
The trend seems harmless enough at first: “Planking” involves lying face-down on the ground in an unexpected place and then uploading a picture to Facebook or a blog to share with the world. And some of it is innocent, with teens and twenty-somethings posting pictures of themselves face-planted on tree branches and lawns. What isn’t: Kids who raise the ante with photos taken in dangerous places — on a rooftop, an escalator, or, as in the recent case of a 20-year-old who just died while planking, balanced on a terrace railing seven stories high. Australian Acton Beale is reportedly the first person to die from planking.
Parents are usually concerned about their college students doing more shots than studying, but the New York Daily News recently reported on a worrisome new drinking trend of “vodka eyeballing.” Partying co-eds tilt back their heads and have a vodka shot poured onto their eye, which gives a quick buzz when the alcohol enters the bloodstream through veins at the back of the eye. This stunt seems to have come from outlandish Las Vegas nightclubs, but has made its way onto university campuses. Not only does the idea sound not-so-smart, but doctors are concerned about possible long-term damage to the sensitive eye area, like scarring and impaired vision.
The Today Show reported on a dangerous and illegal new trend that has become popular with some teens and twentysomethings: car surfing. Here’s how it works: A kid climbs on top of the roof or trunk of a car like he’s surfing, and a friend gets behind the wheel of the car and drives anywhere from 20 to 40 miles per hour. Not only is the unrestrained surfer in danger — no surprise there — but the situation can get even more grave if the driver loses control or just follows the turns of the road. The result: A serious, potentially fatal accident.
Purple drank is a legal and lethal concoction of Sprite, Jolly Ranchers and codeine cough syrup. Rappers, hip-hop artists and pro athletes have made this fad cool and brought it into the mainstream. Lil’ Wayne has been photographed with his “purple” filled cup, Johnny Jolly of the Green Bay Packers was reportedly drinking it in 2009 while driving, and Jim Marcus Russell of the Oakland Raiders was arrested for possession of codeine syrup without a prescription. There’s even a style of music for “leaners” to listen to — it’s slowed down to mirror the effects of the drink, which are unresponsiveness, lethargy, hallucination and a slow-mo zombie feeling.
Trust us, this isn’t as innocent as it sounds. Basically, a group of girls, each wearing a different lipstick color, performs oral sex on one or multiple guys. By the time the last girl is done, the boy’s nether region is decorated like a rainbow. Needless to say this kind of partying could transmit STDs and start a lot of unhealthy rumors.
Twilight-Inspired Fad: Biting
Remember love bites, aka hickeys? Well, some teens are taking this to a whole new, literal level. CNN.com reports that a bite mark can be a status symbol in some cliques. (What ever happened to a love note or a friendly card?) Many of these bites involve breaking the skin and passing blood from one teen to the other, adding the chance of infection or worse.
Synthetic Marijuana (Spice or K2)
The worst part about these herb-based, marijuana wanna bes? They’re totally legal. Thought to give a similar high to smoking pot, these products are not regulated and the smoker could be inhaling toxic or poisonous contaminants. The DEA declared an emergency effort, banning the five main ingredients used in these synthetic drugs. According to MSNBC.com, makers of the faux Mary Jane have already started finding new chemicals to avoid the ban.
The Ball-Tapping Game
Remember dead leg? You would hit someone as hard as you could in his thigh and run. Well, this is similar and don’t let its childlike name fool you. The idea of the ball-tapping game is to “tap” someone in the, well, balls… hard, real hard. Gawker.com reported on a boy who had to have a testicle removed due to the intensity of a tapping game he partook in. Warn your son that even though this sounds like a test of his manliness, it could challenge his manly ability to have children someday. What ever happened to good, old-fashioned noogies, wedgies and Indian burns?
Twitter-Organized Flash Mobs
They’re not smart. They’re not safe. But these fads are all real — and have all made headlines for endangering the lives of tweens and teens. Most kids won’t try them, but it’s important to be in the know. If you hear about any of these things happening in your community, have a conversation with your teen. Some “flash mobs,” public gatherings that are usually organized on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, are pretty peaceful and fun. Many have been immortalized on YouTube and show large groups of people doing anything from dancing in train stations to having pillow fights in public squares. But this trend recently turned violent when teenagers in the Philadelphia area organized a flash mob on Twitter that injured several people and led to three arrests. Teenagers vandalized property and attacked onlookers while police enforced a curfew. Local authorities pointed to a lack of jobs and after-school programs for kids, but most talked about a lack of parent involvement. Talk to your kids about what they’re doing on the internet — and where they’re heading when they walk out the door.
ChatRoulette.com — a way for kids to anonymously video chat online with anyone, without any security blocks or filters — is a parent’s nightmare. The site automatically pairs you with a stranger when you log on. If you don’t want to chat with that person, you can skip to another, likewise anonymous, video chatter. Users have reported seeing disturbing images on other people’s webcams, including nudity, and people specifically looking for sex. The site is easy to use and doesn’t feature any way to protect kids from adult content or worse, from predators. Talk to your kids about ChatRoulette.com, and remember that you can use your computer’s security settings to block the site. An even easier way to prevent your kids from using ChatRoulette.com? Disable or take away your computer’s webcam. Your kids won’t be able to use the site without it. Kids might think their questionable online photos are “private” just because they choose certain privacy settings. Two high school girls from Indianapolis learned the hard way that this isn’t always the case. When someone passed their racy (and supposedly “private”) MySpace photos along to school administrators, the school took action, banning the girls from sports and making them apologize to the coaches’ board. Now the girls are suing, saying that their freedom of speech was violated. Other kids have faced expulsion or lost scholarships over online photos. A 14-year-old New Jersey girl was even hit with child pornography charges after posting nude photos of herself on MySpace.
Posting Racy Photos Online
Kids might think their questionable online photos are “private” just because they choose certain privacy settings. Two high school girls from Indianapolis learned the hard way that this isn’t always the case. When someone passed their racy (and supposedly “private”) MySpace photos along to school administrators, the school took action, banning the girls from sports and making them apologize to the coaches’ board. Now the girls are suing, saying that their freedom of speech was violated. Other kids have faced expulsion or lost scholarships over online photos. A 14-year-old New Jersey girl was even hit with child pornography charges after posting nude photos of herself on MySpace. YouTube videos feature tutorials of kids “smoking” Smarties candy — or crushing them up and inhaling (and exhaling) the dust, anyway. The practice itself isn’t dangerous (except in rare cases when the dust can clog nasal passages), but mimicking the gestures of smoking cigarettes or illegal drugs should be enough to make parents pay attention.