The Internet can be a wonderful resource, filled with useful and fascinating information. But there are times when it also seems like the devil's playground. With so many strange and dangerous social media challenges sending children to the hospital, the last thing we need is the resurgence of an old one. But, unfortunately, that's exactly what's happening. Moms, you may remember hearing about this one -- and hoping it was gone for good. But, no, it's back, and just as frightening.
It's called the salt and ice challenge, and it involves kids, tweens, and teens' putting salt and pieces of ice on their skin simultaneously and then competing to see how long they can withstand the intense burning sensation that results. While it doesn't sound all that terrible -- let's face it, salt and ice are pretty standard items you'd find in any kitchen -- the chemical reaction caused when the two combine is actually leaving kids with a serious condition similar to frostbite.
You see, salt causes the temperature of the ice to plummet to as low as -17C (1.4F). Pretty scary, right? Some kids who participate in the stunt are even experiencing third degree burns as a result of "accepting the challenge."
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Here's what it looks like:
Parents, guardians, teachers...there is a new social media craze called the "salt and ice challenge" which causes a reaction similar to frostbite and can leave a child with serious burns (pictured). Please be vigilant - let's prevent more children getting hurt. #warning #burns #socialmediacraze #saltandicechallenge #teachers #parents #schools #facebook
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Sometimes it's worse:
While you might say, "My kid would never try that," you'd be surprised by how many videos are out there with kids and young adults eagerly attempting this bizarre challenge.
This isn't the first time we've seen youngsters doing serious harm to themselves thanks to social media. Just two weeks ago, an Internet craze involving lighting hand sanitizer on fire sent an 8-year-old boy to the hospital with second-degree burns. Other popular social media challenges have even claimed children's lives, like the dozens of kids who've died as a result of the online choking game, in which they attempt to pass out to achieve a state of euphoria.
These heartbreaking incidents make most of us want to put the entire family on a strict digital diet. Unfortunately, many of us can't do that -- but there are a few steps we can take to try to keep our kids safe:
First, talk to your child.
As the CDC points out, having conversations with our kids about the dangers of these so-called "games" is the first thing every parent should do. Together, you can come up with rules about what sites kids are allowed to visit and which types of online (and offline) behaviors are acceptable.
Monitor your child's online activity.
The CDC encourages parents to visit the websites their children are viewing to see what they're looking at and "assess the pros and cons" of different sites. Keeping your computer out in the open or insisting kids only use their devices where you can keep an eye on them can also help you stay in the loop.
Finally, stay informed.
Parents should stay updated on the latest social media developments and viral threats. To do this, the CDC recommends looking for seminars at local schools or libraries. You can also visit new websites and use new apps yourself to see what's up with the latest craze.
Remember: It's always better to be safe than sorry.