Most Dangerous Social Media Challenges
Humans are social animals with an innate desire for attention. Social media capitalizes on this need, which is why people love joining viral "challenges."
Some of these challenges — like the mannequin challenge and the trashtag challenge — are admittedly awesome. Others are just plain silly. Worse, many social media trends have proven to be dangerous and even deadly.
These are the most dangerous social media challenges.
20. The Back Cracking Challenge
The back cracking challenge is fairly innocent. It consists of two people helping each other, well, crack their backs.
It's a mystery how this even went viral, given how absolutely boring it is. But the universe has many mysteries that will never be resolved. While this isn't a challenge that will result in death, the medical community has come out to speak against it.
Why the Back Cracking Challenge Is Dangerous
There's a reason chiropractors are required to have a license. Take it from someone who has their back cracked twice a week: You don't want an amateur doing it.
It's absurdly easy to throw your back out, especially if you're letting someone align it based on a TikTok video. Back problems can be painful and may take long to heal. Plus, treatments aren't cheap. Don't let social media ruin your health and bank account.
19. The Coronavirus Challenge
Back in March 2020, there were still many people who did not take coronavirus seriously. Springbreakers rushed to Florida taking advantage of cheap tickets, not long before realizing the global pandemic would be much more serious than they thought.
Another person who thought it was a joke was Ava Louise, an influencer highly lacking in common sense as well as basic personal hygiene. As a desperate ploy to get followers, she filmed herself licking an airplane toilet seat in what she called the "coronavirus challenge."
Why the Coronavirus Challenge Is Dangerous
There is no proof that you’ll get COVID-19 by licking a toilet seat, but you definitely don’t want the things that are accumulated on an airplane toilet seat in your mouth. Particularly human feces particles, which can contain the life-threatening Vibrio cholerae bacteria.
The trend quickly spiraled into people licking other bacteria-ridden surfaces like subway poles. One participant did test positive for COVID a few days after doing the challenge, though there’s no way to prove he got it from the toilet seat.
Thankfully, it seems like only a handful of people were gross enough to try this.
18. The Sunburnt Art Challenge
Remember when you were a teenager and pranked friends who fell asleep on the beach by drawing on them with sunscreen?
Well, people are doing it to themselves now in order to get body art from their sunburn.
Why the Sunburn Art Challenge Is Dangerous
Admittedly, some of the "art" people have done actually looks pretty cool. The problem is that sunburns are really bad for you. For this to work, you’d have to put sunscreen only on the "drawing" and leave the rest of your skin unprotected.
A sunburn or tan literally causes your DNA to burn. This makes it more likely for it to mutate as it regenerates itself, which can lead to skin cancer. Given that one out of five Americans develops a form of skin cancer in their lifetime, taking this risk for Instagram is really not worth it.
Also, sunburns cause you to age faster.
17. The Full Face Wax Challenge
People will really do anything for views, even if it means waxing their entire face.
While waxing parts of your face is normal, until 2020, no one had been dumb enough to bring it to this extreme.
We'll blame this one on the COVID-19 pandemic and the isolation that lockdown caused.
Why the Full Face Wax Challenge Is Dangerous
Although strips of paper are used to protect the eyes and eyebrows, it'd be easy for a mistake to happen. And wax is the last thing you want in your eye. Aestheticians have also expressed concern about the potential for obstructing airways, especially since the challenge usually involves putting q-tips with wax going into people's nostrils.
The challenge was started by a professional barber. And while his idea wasn't great to start, it then spiraled into several unprofessionals trying it at home. There were even some disturbing videos of children trying it. Besides skin irritation, mild burns can also happen.
16. Gallon Smashing Challenge
YouTube convinced teenagers to do ridiculous stuff way before TikTok. Case in point: the gallon smashing challenge.
First invented in 2013, this absurd and extremely annoying challenge has refused to die. It still occasionally pops up on social media to the detriment of all humanity.
Its whole spiel is to get a gallon or two at the grocery store and smash it into the ground while pretending to fall. Then, concerned onlookers come to help. We know, we don't see where the "comedy" is.
Why the Gallon Smashing Challenge Is Dangerous
Spilling liquid in an aisle while falling has obviously led to real injuries. Sometimes, the people doing the challenge have underestimated how hard the floor is and hurt themselves. But, often, they've managed to bring others down with them, as the floor is wet and slippery. At least one person was reported to have ended up with a broken jaw.
Besides potentially causing falls, this is just a major jerk prank to pull. Wasting food is simply not cool. Neither is giving grocery store workers more tasks to do when they're already trying to get through a day of dealing with rude customers and cleaning up vomit on aisle two.
When in doubt, follow the simple rule of not being a jerk.
15. The Ice and Salt Challenge
This painful challenge is pretty simple: You put salt on your skin, then place a cube of ice on top of it. The salt causes the temperature of the ice to drop even further, burning the skin.
The point is to see how long you can take the pain for.
Why the Ice and Salt Challenge Is Dangerous
Look, kids have found ways to mildly hurt themselves forever. You probably did it when you were a kid. Still, it doesn’t make this type of challenge any less cringe-worthy.
Though most people suffer a mild burn, there have been cases of kids obtaining third-degree burns as a result of the challenge.
Planking was all the rage in the early 2010s. It consisted of lying face down very rigidly (like a plank) on a random surface.
As the trend matured, the challenge was to be as random and daring as possible.
Why the Planking Challenge Is Dangerous
Planking isn’t dangerous in itself. Plenty of people planked in places like office desks, pool chairs and grills.
But people are people, so you can expect someone to take something silly and fun to a dangerous extreme. Several people were injured as they planked in dangerous places like the top of light posts. In 2011, an Australian man fell to his death as he was attempting to plank from a balcony.
The trend isn't really around anymore, with "planking" now being a term more closely associated with fitness.
13. The Duct Tape Challenge
Started in 2016, the Duct Tape Challenge had people taping themselves to a wall with duct tape and trying to get free. Even though it's a few years old, the trend still appears on social media from time to time.
Why the Duct Tape Challenge Is Dangerous
What could possibly go wrong with someone frantically frees themselves from duct tape as they hang from a wall?
As you probably guessed, people have hit their heads against furniture, frames and the floor as they come crashing down. In 2016, a 14-year-old from Renton, Washington, crushed his eye socket and suffered an aneurysm after hitting his head against a window frame doing the challenge.
Sadly, this didn’t stop others from trying it, with the trend resurfacing in popularity multiple times until 2018.
12. The 'Bird Box' Challenge
Sandra Bullock’s post-apocalyptic movie, "Bird Box'' showed the actress completing stunts like rowing a boat through rapids while blindfolded. Naturally, this inspired people to attempt everyday tasks with something over their eyes.
Why the ‘Bird Box’ Challenge Is Dangerous
Like planking, the "Bird Box" challenge isn’t inherently dangerous. There are plenty of things you can try to do blindfolded that would not put you at risk of injury. But once again, people don’t fully understand common-sense lines.
The worst form of the challenge had people driving while blindfolded. Participants included controversial YouTuber (and now boxing star) Jake Paul.
Given that cars are small flammable tanks, responsible for the death of 1.35 million people each year, this is irresponsible beyond words.
11. The Milk Crate Challenge
2021 has brought with it some interesting social media fads, but the one that’s injured the most people so far is the milk crate challenge.
For it, people stack a pyramid of milk crates on top of each other and try to walk from one side to the other without falling.
Why the Milk Crate Challenge Is Dangerous
Look, we get it. Quarantine was hard, and the world is figuratively and literally burning. We all need to let off some steam.
We also get that the challenge looks pretty cool when people are able to do it and that it’s hard not to laugh when people inevitably fall and bust their behinds. The issue is that the falls can actually be pretty serious.
Serious enough for TikTok to ban the hashtag.
10. The Kiki Challenge
If you were on social media in 2018, you had to have seen some iteration of the Kiki challenge.
Started by American comedian Shiggy, the original video showed him dancing to Drake’s "In My Feelings" in a street.
That then morphed into people getting out of a moving car and dancing in the middle of roads.
Why the Kiki Challenge Is Dangerous
Though the Kiki challenge was definitely fun, it also caused several people to get injured. Most of them got injured as they left the car, since it’s very easy to trip when you exit a moving car — even one moving slowly.
But some people also weren’t too careful to do the challenge on the side of the road where no cars would come, with one man getting hit by his friend’s car as he tripped when he was supposed to jump on its hood.
But perhaps the most reckless part of the challenge was the one you didn’t see, since drivers were usually the ones taking videos of their friends.
9. The Outlet Challenge
People like things that spark, and teenagers love science as long as it's not in the classroom. This is how young, impressionable teens started partially plugging a charger head into a wall outlet and then dropping a coin into the gap.
The whole point is to get an electrical reaction.
Why the Outlet Challenge Is Dangerous
Did you think once your kids are no longer toddlers you wouldn’t have to worry about them putting their fingers inside a socket? We got really bad news because, once again, teenagers have proven to be very big toddlers.
This extremely dangerous trend can cause the outlet to fry in the best-case scenario. In the worst scenarios, it can cause a fire or electrocution. No recorded cases of death have occurred, thankfully.
We hope people stop doing this so it can stay that way.
8. Skull Breaker Challenge
Just as its name suggests, this prank challenge is meant to cause the victim to fall on the floor. The prank consists of two people who get the prankee to stand in the middle and jump, purportedly for a cute video.
But instead of jumping, the prankers kick their feet out, causing them to fall backward in the air.
Why the Skull Breaker Challenge Is Dangerous
We’re sure no one who has participated in this challenge has actually wanted to hurt anyone. But given its name, everyone should’ve known better.
There have been numerous reported injuries across the world because of this challenge. Two teenagers in Daytona Beach, Florida were even charged with a misdemeanor for the injuries they caused their friend while doing this challenge.
7. The Hot Water Challenge
Another prank challenge that is extremely dangerous is the hot water challenge. It usually consists of throwing boiling water on an unsuspecting or sleeping friend.
Sometimes, the people are awake and willingly participate in the challenge. Other times, they pour it on themselves.
Why the Hot Water Challenge Is Dangerous
Like the outlet challenge, you would expect kids over the age of 4 to understand the dangers of boiling water. Though participants probably don’t actually want to harm their friends, they usually end up burning them badly, especially when the water is poured on their face.
Sadly, there have been cases of severe burns, like an 11-year-old who had to be rushed to the hospital after her friend threw boiling water on her. There is also a case of an 8-year-old from Florida who died from wounds sustained after drinking boiling water, another version of the challenge.
The challenge appeared sometime around 2017 and was popular until 2018. It is now replaced by a challenge that involves throwing hot water in the air during winter to create pretty images.
6. The Tide Pod Challenge
Maybe the most famous of social media challenges, the Tide pod challenge gained notoriety because of its utter ridiculousness.
In late 2017, teenagers once again lowered the bar of common sense by daring each other to eat Tide pods, small laundry detergent sachets.
Why the Tide Pod Challenge Is Dangerous
We don’t really have to explain this, do we? Laundry detergent is toxic and should never be consumed. Also, eating a large plastic satchel can cause you to choke.
People, especially small children, die from eating Tide pods. But usually, these cases are accidents, not something done on purpose for likes.
Though the number of teens participating in this challenge was small, the trend was scary enough to cause a frenzy.
5. The Benadryl Challenge
There's a special place in the pits of hell for whoever decided to convince kids to take large amounts of Benadryl.
Used mainly as allergy medication, Benadryl's key side effects include drowsiness. Taken in large enough quantities, though, it can cause a "high" that teens erroneously think is safe because it's a substance they're familiar with.
Why the Benadryl Challenge Is Dangerous
It should go without saying that taking large amounts of any medication can cause adverse side effects. Pushing boundaries for views or likes, some teenagers have taken this challenge to the extreme.
The challenge has led to hospitalizations and — in the case of one Oklahoma teen — death from overdose.
4. The Fire Challenge
We really wish we didn’t have to tell you about this challenge. It started in 2014 and consisted of people pouring a flammable liquid on themselves and setting themselves on fire.
Blame "Jackass" for this one. Thankfully, the trend seems to have mostly quieted down.
Why the Fire Challenge Is Dangerous
Fire can literally consume your entire body, so purposefully setting yourself on fire is just not smart. That hasn’t stopped people from trying it, way before social media was a thing.
You won’t be surprised to know this challenge hurt many people. One of the most notorious cases was that of a 12-year-old from Detroit who sustained third-degree burns in 2018. A year later, a Michigan boy of the same age was hospitalized with second-degree burns.
Even when burns aren’t extreme, the chemicals and smoke that participants inhale can cause long-lasting damage to their lungs.
3. The Cha-Cha Slide Driving Challenge
You know the "Cha-Cha Slide." It's the fun, innocent song that plays at weddings and school dances and tells you exactly what steps to take. Except the internet breaks everything good. So people have started using the dance directions as instructions while driving.
Participants swerve to the left and the right, then "criss-cross" by swerving fast in both directions. They are usually in the car with others who are filming them.
Why the Cha Cha Slide Challenge Is Dangerous
We can’t stress the dangers of reckless driving enough. Roads are unpredictable, and accidents are much too common for people to be clowning around.
Besides resulting in your own death, this could potentially injure or kill someone else.
We won't give air time to this challenge, so instead enjoy the video for the actual dance.
2. Car Surfing
We’ve seen some amazingly dumb and dangerous challenges on here, but few things compare to car surfing.
For it, people ride the hood of a moving car, "surfing" it.
Why the Car Surfing Challenge Is Dangerous
Before you start ranting about teenagers, car surfing has been around since the mid-1980s. Still, social media has helped the idea reach many more impressionable teens and young adults, who are notoriously bad at risk assessment.
In 2016, car surfing killed at least seven people, many of whom were 21 and under. Most people die when curves, bumps or stops throw them off the car, causing them to hit the pavement or other things around them. Many people have also sustained serious injuries, including severe head trauma.
Conclusion: Don’t try this ever.
1. The Blackout Challenge
Perhaps no social media challenge has proven as deadly as the blackout challenge, which encourages kids to suffocate themselves until they pass out.
This is sometimes done by holding one's breath for prolonged periods of time, but it can sometimes include strangulation with belts that are supposed to loosen up as soon as the participant blacks out.
The challenge has existed in some form since the 1990s and resurfaces once in a while.
Why the Blackout Challenge Is Dangerous
Most injuries related to this challenge happen when participants — most of whom are underage — faint and hit themselves against objects in the room. A bad enough fall can cause a concussion or trauma serious enough to warrant going to the hospital.
Cutting off oxygen to the brain can be harmful. If sustained for too long, it can even lead to a coma. Sadly, this has happened to several children, two of which have been left brain dead. At least one of them had to be taken off life support after not showing any signs of improvement.
Numerous children have died because of this challenge. The parents of two have come together to sue TikTok for its irresponsible algorithm.