The 'duct tape challenge', where someone is wrapped in duct tape and challenged to break free within a certain period of time, is the latest in a string of dangerous social media trends, each with countless unique videos, millions of views and negative consequences. Recently, a teen in Washington State sustained a serious brain injury and facial fractures while participating in the 'duct tape challenge' with his friends, and his mother is hoping to raise awareness of how dangerous this stunt can be.
As a parent, it is important to keep track of what is trending on social media even though this content will likely not appeal to you. Be warned: you might be uninterested, confused or possibly shocked with what you see while your teen's reaction might be different. Novelty piques a teen's interest; viral spread through social media gives the content an air of importance. The sharing and liking of these videos indirectly supports the video challenge trend and eggs others on to make more of these kinds of videos, getting more provocative and risky with each new challenge When teens watch the video with friends or discuss it online, fitting in may outweigh any perceived risks.
It's important for parents to be aware and to speak with our teens about better understanding the consequences of not just the fad itself but also what it means when we watch and share videos like these. In essence, share your brain with your teen. The teenage brain is continuing to develop: the prefrontal cortex, an area associated with inhibition of risky behavior is the last to develop, and deeper brain structures that respond to hormones with resultant enhanced emotions often winning out over reason.
So what can you do? Keep aware and create open dialogue about social media habits so that you have the opportunities for conversation about how unsafe some trending behaviors caught on video are in the real world. For more tips about keeping that social media dialogue open, read my previous post about that here.
Other dangerous social media trends to look out for: