I just finished watching some of the YouTube videos on the “cinnamon challenge”. Have you seen them...there are over 50,000 videos of teens/young adults taking the challenge!  I do everything I can to stay up to date with my adolescent patients and their viral video views that interest them.  

There seem to be new “bad behaviors” posted on the internet every day. For some reason, many of these “video dares” seem to be the ones that frequently go viral, often showing teens (and adults as well) making poor choices. The YouTube videos I am speaking of have more than 60 million views, which must means there are a lot of children of all ages who are viewing these as well. 

In the videos, the “challenge” is too swallow 1 tsp of cinnamon in 60 seconds without any water.  Many of the posts show teens choking and gagging and even aspirating after trying this “stupid experiment” (where do they even come up with these ideas?)  

Before social media this “challenge” might have never gone beyond one neighborhood or school before kids figured out that not only was it not possible to swallow the cinnamon, but could cause medical complications as well. But the days of a simple “I dare you to do....”  are now viewed by millions and a bad idea is spread just as quickly as the virus in the movie Contagion

This viral challenge has led to some kids being hospitalized and even requiring ventilator assistance due to the small cinnamon particles being aspirated into the lungs. There is even a disclaimer on the website www.cinnamonchallenge.com stating that attempting the challenge could be dangerous and cause serious health consequences. The last line states, “you are going to cough and regret you tried....” 

But I think the even more important point of this discussion is the need to discuss the use of the internet with children and teens.  It may be difficult for parents to keep up with the latest craze, but continuing to monitor a child’s internet use may be a helpful deterrent to things like the “cinnamon challenge”.  

Discussions about the responsibilities of internet use, including sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter need to be addressed within any family. The need to supervise younger children’s internet activity cannot be stressed enough, especially with Wi-Fi available in many places where a parent may not realize their child is connecting to the internet on their I-pod touch.  Technology is everywhere and our kids are typically tech savvy, but they still need guidance, boundaries and limits. 

The days of any activity being limited to a local area are over. Everything truly is “world wide on the web”. 

That's your daily dose for today.  We'll chat again tomorrow.