Harmful Games Kids Play

Written by P. Humbargar

Edited by A. Noelle

Children have always invented games to challenge one another. It’s just part of growing up—a normal way they test their boundaries and learn about taking risks. Mostly, the games kids come up with are harmless, but sometimes the games go too far, with damaging and even deadly consequences. It is therefore vitally important for parents and other caregivers to be aware of and help kids avoid these dangerous games.

Image: Worakit Sirijinda

To help parents, U.S. News recently published an article, explaining several games kids need to avoid. The following games are among the most popular:

The Choking Game

According to the article, this extremely dangerous game resulted in the deaths of at least 82 children between 1995 and 2007, and 6 percent of eighth graders have participated in it. The game involves cutting off the air supply with ropes, belts, or bare hands in order to produce a “high” that doesn’t show up on drug tests. It is also known as the Fainting Game, Seven Minutes to Heaven, Tapping Out, and the Sleeper Hold. By cutting off the oxygen supply, kids playing this game put themselves at risk for brain damage, stroke, and death. Clues that your child may be involved in this game include unexplained bruises on the neck, frequent headaches, bloodshot eyes, and disorientation.

Cinnamon Challenge

This game involves swallowing common powdered cinnamon—without water, resulting in an immediate, extreme coughing fit and sometimes vomiting. This seems like a pretty silly thing to do, but it can have consequences that are definitely not funny. Serious side-effects like lung collapse, pneumonia, and pulmonary edema have been seen.

Gallon Challenge

In this challenge, inspired by an MTV program, children attempt to drink an entire gallon of whole milk within an hour without vomiting. Though there are probably no long-term health effects, the kids will undoubtedly experience severe vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and bloating.

Chubby Bunny

This game, popular at camp-outs, involves seeing how many full-size marshmallows kids can stuff in their mouths and still say the words, “Chubby Bunny.” Tragically, this seemingly funny game has resulted in several choking deaths, as kids have utilized their throats in order to pack in more marshmallows.

Ice and Salt Challenge

To prove they can withstand pain, kids apply table salt to a moist area of skin and then apply pressure with an ice cube. Since salt causes the freezing point to drop from 32 degrees to zero degrees, the result is extreme pain—and possibly blistering, first- and second-degree burns, and frostbite.

Water Chugging

Drinking too much water sounds harmless, and children participating in chugging contests usually experience only nausea and headaches as side-effects. But a deadly condition known as “hyperhydration” has been known to occur. Since too much water dilutes the sodium in the bloodstream, the resulting fluid imbalance in the cells can cause brain swelling, respiratory arrest, coma, and even death.

What should parents do if they suspect their child is involved in one of these, or other dangerous games?

As always, it is important to keep the lines of communication open—let your child know that you are someone they can be comfortable talking to. Psychologist Jill Weber suggests using a news report or article to get the conversation started. And by not panicking, and not being too punitive when confronting your child, Weber says that they will be less likely to rebel. Taking this approach can allow parents to voice their concerns and educate kids about the potential dangers these games have—dangers of which the kids may not even be aware.

Share your own advice with Chelsea in the comments section!


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