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posted: 3/4/2018 7:30 AM

Know the risks of internet challenges

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  • If an internet challenge is really something that can be done for fun, the whole family should be able to do it. If not, it's probably a bad idea.

    If an internet challenge is really something that can be done for fun, the whole family should be able to do it. If not, it's probably a bad idea.
    Thinkstock photo

  • Corinne Sadecki-Lund

    Corinne Sadecki-Lund

 
Submitted by Lurie Children’s

"Challenge yourself!"

You've heard it a million times, and it's usually a good thing. Whether it's academic, professional, or personal, completing a challenge can come with great satisfaction.

Some challenges, however, need to be more carefully considered. With certain "challenges" going viral on the internet, it's important to separate the fun ones from those that come with substantial risks.

Most popular, as of late, is the detergent pod challenge, in which one is challenged to eat a pod of laundry detergent. The risks associated with this challenge are serious and life-threatening.

Ingesting a laundry detergent pod can immediately cause vomiting, lethargy, gasping and esophageal burns. If inhaled, these effects can be even greater.

"The chemicals in the detergent pods can depress the central nervous system," says Corinne Sadecki-Lund, RN, BSN, Lurie Children's trauma coordinator. "So in addition to respiratory and gastrointestinal discomfort, the more serious risks include seizures, comas or brain death. Chemical burns could mean a permanent feeding tube or loss of taste."

She also adds that the younger and smaller the child, the greater is the toxicity.

Internet challenges serve as tools for entertainment and attention for the kids who post them online to social media; however, the dangers typically outweigh those benefits.

Sadecki-Lund says it's important to monitor all of your kids' online activity -- whether that's YouTube, Snapchat or something else. And that includes not only what they're posting, but what they're viewing as well.

"Check what they're watching and posting, and then have a conversation about it," Sadecki-Lund says.

"Be open and make sure they know not to replicate everything they see," she added. "If the challenge is really something that can be done for fun, the whole family should be able to do it. If it's not fun or doable for the whole family, or if you feel like you have to hide your activity, you probably shouldn't be doing it."

A great concern for some parents is violating their kids' privacy.

Checking their phones, their browser history, limiting their screen time and keeping their doors open all have that effect to some degree. However, it's more important that your children aren't engaging in dangerous activities prompted to them by others.

You might have to be the bad cop every once in a while, but safety comes first.

• Children's Health is a continuing series. This week's article is courtesy of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. For more information, visit luriechildrens.org.

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