Parents Be Warned: The 'Tide Pod Challenge' Is the Most WTF Social Media Game Yet

Tide Pod Challenge

From the Blue Whale and salt ice challenge to the eraser challenge, parents have been warned of a variety of dangerous social media "games" that kids and teens are getting caught up in. The latest viral test is the Tide Pod challenge, and it's both so serious and so stupid that doctors are reminding everyone of the dangerous side effects that can come from this "joke."

  • Doctors are warning parents that the "Tide Pod challenge" is growing in popularity among kids, teens, and even young adults.

    To fulfill the challenge, participants are encouraged to bite or eat the liquid-filled pods and record their reactions.

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  • People are uploading their cringeworthy videos on social media and inspiring others to give it a try.

    Banner Health toxicologist Dr. Frank LoVecchio told NewsChannel 5 Nashville that doctors in Arizona alone have seen recent cases of teens intentionally consuming detergent pods -- and the harm that this could do to their body is no joke. The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center and Banner Poison and Drug Information Center also reported 239 statewide cases of laundry pod exposures in 2017.

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  • Burning their mouths, lips, and esophagi isn't the only thing that parents have to worry about their kids doing.

    "The membrane around it, when it dissolves, can cause central nervous system depression," LoVecchio told NewsChannel 5. This can cause people to feel sleepy or fatigued. 

    There has been a substantial number of cases of young children unknowingly harming themselves with detergent pods. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were more than 10,500 reports of exposure to kids 5 years old and younger in 2017.

    But now it seems like teens are inspired to taste these toxic pods intentionally.

  • Researchers have found pods to be more toxic for people than other types of detergent.

    According to CNN, a 2016 study found that kids who were exposed to packets of laundry detergent dealt with a variety of life-threatening problems; there were cases of children who stopped breathing, fell into comas, or went into cardiac arrest. 

  • It's believed that viral Tide Pod memes are what started it all.

    What supposedly started as a joke thanks to online memes has morphed into a serious challenge. From spaghetti with Tide Pods, to ice cream covered with the detergent, to bowls of "pod cereal," many memes feature these pods as food toppings.

  • There are also countless versions of these memes featuring pods as childhood-favorite food and drinks.

  • Others play up the drinking aspect.

  • And a ton of them incorporate SpongeBob and friends.

    The increased exposure to the idea of these cleaning products as edible "forbidden fruit" could also possibly be linked to a 2017 College Humor video about students eating pods. In the viral video, a student thinks about eating Tide Pods but does some research first. After reading how dangerous they are, he still enjoys a bowl of pods and doesn't regret it -- even after ending up in the emergency room because of it.

  • But kids need to know that just because these beloved characters are doing it doesn't mean that any person should ever consider it.

    A spokesperson for Procter and Gamble, the makers of Tide, said in a statement that the company has seen "no indication of an increase of cases seeking medical treatment amongst infants and teenagers associated with the recent uptick in social media conversation." Still, they caution, "Our laundry pacs are a highly concentrated detergent meant to clean clothes, and they're used safely in millions of households every day. They should be only used to clean clothes and kept up, closed and away from children."

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    Dr. Alfred Aleguas Jr., managing director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa, also spoke out about what "life-threatening" situations kids or teens could end up in if they were inspired to mimic this video. He warned that even if kids bite or spit out the pod, it can cause diarrhea and vomiting. He told USA Today that swallowing even a small amount of the product is highly worrisome because the liquid is incredibly concentrated, and in some cases, the detergent can end up in the lungs. 

    "Ending up in the emergency room is no joke," he said.

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