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Dangers of social media trends, challenges



With the new age of technology, a rise in dangerous internet trends have become prevalent in modern society.

From TikTok to Instagram to Snapchat, there are so many forms of social media that are very influential toward people, especially teens. Something that is quite commonly seen on social media is trends, which may consist of some sort of challenge or simply just a popular thing people are doing. With the seemingly never-ending array of trends, many of them have been extremely dangerous or destructive. 

There have been a multitude of trends that have been destructive, distracting or simply just a nuisance. For example, in late 2021, a trend, commonly referred to as the “devious licks” trend, rapidly grew in popularity. This trend consisted of people “hitting licks,” which is a slang term for stealing, especially items from public spaces, such as schools. Some of the most common items stolen were school bathroom items. For instance, viewers could watch videos showcasing students stealing soap or paper towel dispensers and even stall doors or toilets. 

This trend obviously resulted in many major consequences. Some schools prohibited bathroom usage, while others increased security; many people were fined or arrested due to this immature craze. There has also been an abundance of other trends that have been destructive in this sort of manner, like the “bottle flipping” trend, “Kylie Jenner Challenge,” “Banana Sprite Challenge” and “Orbeez Challenge.”

Not only have trends caused minor destruction, but some trends have been deleterious, as they have caused physical harm to the participant. Some examples of these sorts of trends include the “Tide Pod Challenge,” “Cinnamon Challenge,” “‘Bird Box’ Challenge,” “Crate Challenge,” “Momo hoax” and “Blue Whale Challenge.” 

Another very harmful activity, which grew in popularity among young people due to social media, is vaping. Vaping causes irreversible and almost inevitable damage to the lungs, throat, mouth and more. According to a survey from the National Youth Tobacco Survey in 2022, about 27.6% of American teens admit to using a vape device daily. The vaping influence of a large number of these people likely stems from social media influence. With such a large group of young people partaking in such a harmful action so often, it is almost imminent that America will see an increase in consequences such as lung disease, heart disease and asthma.

As previously mentioned, many trends have been known to cause physical harm. This has been shown through many unfortunate incidents. For example, 16-year-old Mason Dark was nearly burned to death in April of this year due to a TikTok challenge gone wrong. According to Dark’s mother, he was unrecognizable due to his condition. Another example of a challenge that has not only been harmful but also fatal is the “Blackout Challenge.” This trend, which targets a young audience, encourages those who participate to hold their breath for long periods of time, usually resulting in light-headedness, loss of consciousness and even death. Nearly 20 children have passed away due to this hazardous and sometimes fatal trend.

However, not all trends are harmful, as many trends have actually had major benefits. For example, the “Ice Bucket Challenge” helped raise millions of dollars for the ALS Association. Additionally, the “‘I Will Survive’ Challenge,” which grew popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, encouraged people to wash their hands to help prevent the spread of this deadly disease. Many challenges have also provided entertainment to viewers while also being harmless. For example, dancing trends have been very popular on social media. These dancing trends, such as the “‘Renegade’ dance” and the “‘In My Feelings’ challenge,” have provided viewers and participants with immense amusement.

Though many of these trends have become popular because of them, it is important to not blame the social media apps that the trends have taken place on. In fact, many social media apps have even taken steps to remove the popularity and influence these trends possess. For example, TikTok has taken down many videos containing dangerous challenges in them. The cause of this harm should rather be attributed to those who start the trends, those who spread the trends and those who participate in them. Social media merely gives people a platform, which some, unfortunately, use to popularize these detrimental acts.