Social isolation is a big problem in the Covid-19 pandemic. Recently TikTok videos going around asking children to accept the Benadryl challenge. This is the latest social media craze encouraging teens to consume more doses. In September month of this year, after the hospitalization of three teens and death of one in Fort Worth, Texas FDA issued a warning against taking Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) at more than the recommended dosage. Teens/adolescents are accepting the challenges and it can be fatal.
Benadryl is a medicine used for relieving allergy symptoms. Benadryl tablets contain antihistamine and consuming over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medicine can lead to several problems like seizures, heart problems, coma, and death. The medicine can cause hallucinations. Hallucination is what is attracting teenagers to accept the challenge!
Experimenting with medicine is not new for kids. However, popularizing in a bad way on TikTok videos by challenging others to take more doses than recommended and challenging them to take medicine sick or not could be fatal.
FDA is recommending parents to store all medicines including the OTC to store and lock up medicines to prevent poisoning and misuse by teens and young children at home. Pandemic is making children restrict from mingling and stay away from friends. When these types of challenges come out young mind will think it will be fun to participate and accept challenges. So they will experiment and get in trouble.
Johnson & Johnson Company that manufactures Benadryl has posted a warning about Benadryl challenge. FDA also warned tiktok to remove the videos from their social network platform and to be vigilant to remove any additional videos that might surface.
Benadryl challenge is not the first challenge that is going around on social media. There are many such challenges that were going around from the past few years. The deadly choking game challenge has been going around for many years. The cinnamon challenge, Tide pod challenge, the outlet challenge, fire challenge, salt and ice challenge, blue whale challenge to name a few.
Some social media challenges like the ice bucket challenge or the mannequin challenge could be fun. But the challenges that pose threat to kids are not acceptable and parents should be carefully watching what children are up to. Being alone at home while attending online classes and not seeing other kids causing mental health issues in children. They are more vulnerable than before. Such vulnerable minds can see such challenges as “fascinating fun games”. According to child psychologists, they are seeing more children patients who are self-harming due to depression because of social isolation.
The part of teens brain that handles rational thought namely the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed till they reach the mid 20s. They are more impulsive and act without thinking much. Social media many times encourages outrageous behavior. People on social media brag about their achievements. It is also quick-moving and impulsive. Teens mind will not think about the consequences of challenge, rather it will think about how many fans and followers one will get, how popular one can become by accepting and winning the challenge.
How to help children?
- As children are not attending schools regularly as before, parents have more responsibility towards their children.
- Get to know the challenges. Ask questions about child ‘s activities and encourage them to speak.
- Encourage child for online meeting with friends and families. You can be listening on the side.
- Explain the consequences of harmful challenges. If the child doesn’t talk about it, you initiate the topic. Discuss about the dangers of challenges.
- Be a friend on your teen’s social media network. Be a watch dog. Take time to read communications and the child’s response.
- Watch for any such clues that indicate something is going on in your child’s life
- Ask questions about friends, their activities. Avoid passing judgment but listen carefully.
Help your child to develop thoughtful, rational, and skillful thinking. It will help them to overcome dangerous situations and peer pressure. For more about social media challenges and how to help your child please visit:
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Author: Sumana Rao | Posted on: November 23, 2020