There’s very little point in pretending that teens do unwise things just because of social media. I spent my teen years in an idyllic coastal town with a shaky internet connection and still managed to do questionable things to impress my friends and prove that I could easily fit in. As did most of us, right?
However, the wide-ranging reach of social media means that these ridiculous and sometimes outright dangerous trends can spread very quickly – and experts are warning that three in particular could prove ‘life-threatening,’ according to The Mirror.
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Trends that parents should keep an eye out for
The BORG (blackout rage gallon) challenge, which has taken off with older teens in particular, is when people fill a large plastic jug with a mix of water and vodka, topped off with electrolyte powders and flavour enhancers.
This drink has been dubbed ‘hangover-proof’ but experts warn that this simply isn’t the case and the alcohol content overwhelmingly overpowers the water.
According to neurologist Dr Phillipe Douyon, this challenge is landing students in hospital. He said this is happening because people don’t realise just how drunk they’re getting. Their blood alcohol levels increase, leading to a negative impact on the parts of the brain responsible for blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. People then pass out and end up in hospital.
Dr Douyon added that alcohol is toxic to every part of the body and brain, even at moderate intensity – but by doing this BORG challenge, people are putting their lives in danger.
In this challenge, people are urged to take as many as 12 tablets of the allergy medication at a time to trigger hallucinations, according to the Partnership to End Addiction.
The partnership warns that taking more than the recommended dose can lead to anything from nausea to death, adding that one teen did allegedly die from this challenge.
In this trend, people challenge one another to inhale toxic fumes from spray cans such as deodorant, pots of paint and nail polish removers in order to gain a short-term ‘high’. It’s not a new trend, but experts warn it’s having a resurgence because of social media.
Inhaling chemicals or vapours is said to give a fleeting head rush, but the effects can also be lethal – prompting suffocation, choking and heart attacks.
One teen tragically died earlier this year from engaging in the trend.
Advice for parents
While it can be difficult to relay the seriousness of these trends, the Partnership to End Addiction has shared some guidelines on discussing them with your child and keeping them safe. These include:
- Talking with your child and relaying the risks of misusing over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
- Modelling safe and healthy habits when it comes to medicine use, including safe and proper use of OTCs as directed by product labels.
- Storing and locking up medications up and away and out of sight.
- Paying close attention if your child has underlying mental health conditions that can worsen their substance use risk.
- If your child is already intentionally misusing OTC medications, it might help to try to understand why. You could also offer alternative opportunities that offer validation, excitement, relaxation, de-stressing or whatever other means of rewarding activity they seek.
- Monitoring your teens’ social media habits.