Media persuades teens to partake in harmful challenges

By Amy Clark

Staff Reporter

Imagine swallowing a spoonful of cinnamon one second, only to feel like your throat and lungs are on fire as you cough like no other. Your eyes are watering and you have an unbearable feeling of nausea.

This is exactly what happened to WCHS junior Aiyana Trafford when she attempted the cinnamon challenge, one of many internet challenges that are popular amongst teens.

Trafford said she attempted the cinnamon challenge because it was one of the big trends and all her peers were doing it. This challenge caused her throat to burn even days after she attempted it.

“I felt like my throat was closing. I was coughing so much I thought I was actually going to die. I couldn’t breathe; I felt like there was nothing but cinnamon going into my lungs,” Trafford said.

The cinnamon challenge can be extremely dangerous and painful and Trafford expressed how much she wants others to avoid it.

“I think people should avoid it, without a doubt. Considering how much pain I was in just from attempting to do the challenge, I don’t want anyone else to go through that. I mean, thousands of people probably do it every day, but the end result is so painful,” Trafford said.

WCHS senior Shelby Smith has not attempted these challenges, despite all the surrounding pressure, popularity and attention these challenges were receiving.

“I don’t want to jump onto a bandwagon just because it’s a trend; I’m aware of how dangerous it is and I would never do it,” Smith said.

There are a variety of reasons why kids would want to do these challenges. With social media, things can spread around fast, which brings attention to popular challenges. Peer pressure also plays into this because people are constantly trying to get others to partake in a challenge.

“Kids want to fit in or seem cool, or they see a crowd doing it. Just because these challenges are popular, doesn’t mean you have to do them,” Smith said.

Karel Harmon, a registered nurse at Saint Francis Hospital, learned about the challenges when she saw them going around on Facebook. Harmon explained the health risks associated with each challenge.

“The cinnamon challenge can cause either choking or trigger an asthma attack. The hot pepper challenge has the potential to damage your esophagus, especially if you end up vomiting from it. You may also cause an upset stomach. The eraser challenge, you have the potential for an infection to set in,” Harmon said.

Not all internet challenges are harmful. The ALS ice bucket challenge is where someone dumps ice water over their head, and afterwards, donates an amount of money to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). This is a condition that weakens muscles and impacts physical function. According to the New York Times, the association raised a total of $115 million because of this challenge. Other challenges include the pop rocks and the baby food challenges, which involve eating the most pop rocks or baby food in the shortest amount of time.

If anyone is thinking of doing these challenges, remember the consequences. The cinnamon challenge can result in a collapsed lung and the other challenges can result (in extreme cases) death and disfigurement. However, there are plenty of fun, safe challenges, such as the blindfolded makeup challenge and pop rocks challenge, that everyone can enjoy.



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