It's one of the great ironies of raising kids. When they're small, you can't wait until they're old enough to play games with you, and then with other kids. When they're teenagers, you live in constant fear that they're engaging in one of the hot "games" of the moment.
You want to say your daughter won't be the next Jasmine Crawley, the 13-year-old kid beaten senseless in a school bathroom because she and her girlfriends were playing the 30-second game. But you can't, can you? Because you remember some of the lame-brained things you did with your friends, and you live in constant fear that your kid is next. But if you're depending on your memory of those idiot schemes to keep your kid safe, you're out of luck.
A new generation means a whole new round of games, or at least new names for them. If you want to keep your teenagers out of trouble, here are the games (and catchphrases) to watch out for:
30 Seconds Game: You may know it as a knowledge game akin to charades. But among kids, it's generally accepted that playing 30 Seconds means kids fight as hard as they can for half a minute, and the onlookers declare a "winner." By some definitions, the fighting requires punching someone directly in the face, repeatedly.
Choking Game: Just because it's the game that gets the most press doesn't mean kids aren't still trying to achieve a high by cutting off the oxygen to the brain. This can knock kids unconscious or, much worse, cause brain damage or even death. Exact affects are hard to track, because choking game deaths are simply labeled as suicides. The CDC estimates 800 to 1,000 kids between the ages of 10 to 19 die of strangulation every year, and sadly that includes some kids who just thought they were playing a game. Sometimes tied to a sexual component, wherein kids masturbate at the same time, it's also called the fainting game, pass-out, good kids high, and choking off, among other names.
Skittling: Forget about the yummy candy. Think about what is in your medicine cabinet, because this "game" involves teens raiding Mom and Dad's pills, throwing them all into one pot, and then grabbing a random handful of colorful little capsules, downing them in one incredibly dangerous swallow.
ABC Game: It sounds educational, doesn't it? But this twisted form of Scattegories has almost killed kids who have the letters of the alphabet scratched into their hand over and over by a "friend" as they're forced to name off items in a particular category that begin with each letter of the alphabet (hence ABC). The scratcher continues until the competitor makes it all the way through the alphabet, cutting deeper and deeper into the skin, often leaving behind infected wounds.
Hide and Seek: Oooh, we used to play this when we were little, right? Not exactly. The teen version involves, what else, cars. The hiders turn off their headlights, and the seeker has to find them on the dark road. Of course, no one else can see the darkened cars, and inexperienced teen drivers without headlights can't see where they're going.
Ghosting: There's no seeker in this game, just a bunch of kids who turn off the headlights and drive as fast as they can. I don't really have to describe the risks, do I?
European Vacation: Yet another reason to make you fear the trip to the DMV, this "trip" involves one teen driver motoring in the right lane while their pal moves over to the left lane to drive beside them.
Sack Tapping: Remember when you used to punch your friends in the arm to make it go dead? That was nothing compared to the pain suffered when a boy is hit in the, ahem, balls, and subsequently loses his testicle.
Trunking: Forcing a pal to ride in the trunk of a car may sound reasonable if you've watched too many mob movies, but it's been known to actually kill kids.
Surfing: Oh, if this only involved water. Riding atop a moving car is something done for generations, and yet kids are still dumb enough to do it, often with disastrous results.
Robotripping: Drinking cough syrup like it's a bottle of water, this is supposed to help kids hallucinate. Unfortunately, it can also kill them.
Planking: It's not just for kids, and yet it's still dangerous to lie face down in a random spot for laughs. If you're doing it in the middle of the road, you risk getting run over. Doing it on a balcony? Well, you could fall several stories like the Australian man killed last year.
What are the most terrifying games you've heard kids are doing in your neighborhood?
Image via Harveyben/Flickr