One Chip Challenge: the Dangerous TikTok Challenge (and other challenges to be aware of)
TikTok is at it again with another pointless and dangerous trend that’s catching the attention of kids across the country. The “One Chip Challenge” is back in full force this year, sending kids home from school, and in some cases, to the hospital.
The One Chip Challenge, started by chip company Paqui, continues to collect hundreds of millions of views on the social media channel. The challenge—which is really just a marketing stunt—dares people to eat a single tortilla chip that is seasoned with Carolina reaper and scorpion chili pepper, two of the hottest peppers in the world.
The pepper eaters are then supposed to see how long they can hold off before grabbing food or water for relief from the intense heat.
To be fair, the company does display a huge warning to potential pepper poppers. (We all know how well kids listen to warnings).
“Do not eat if you are sensitive to spicy foods, allergic to peppers, nightshades or capsaicin or are pregnant or have any medical conditions. Keep out of reach of children. After touching the chip, wash your hands with soap and do not touch your eyes or other sensitive areas. Seek medical assistance should you experience difficulty breathing, fainting or extended nausea.”
Technically, the One Chip Challenge isn’t new. It’s been around for years, but is back this year with a new twist that it will turn a person’s tongue blue. (Perhaps as proof that you’ve done the challenge?)
How Schools in New York and Nationwide Are Responding to the One Chip Challenge
In Long Island, several North Babylon middle school students became temporarily sick after eating the chips, Newsday reported. And recently in Tyler, Texas, three students were taken to a hospital by their parents after attempting the challenge.
In response, Tyler Independent School District issued a warning. The district’s director of health services Rachel Barber said that students and parents need to be aware of the dangers of social media challenges.
“The latest One Chip Challenge can cause serious bodily injury and poisoning, and some can even be fatal,” Barber said. “Serious complications such as damaged airways, seizures, and coma have been linked to many of these challenges. Students need to be mindful that while they may get ’likes’ or comments on social media, it could also leave them with life-long health complications that aren’t worth the risk.”
Kids from schools across the country are getting sick. Just like the school district in Tyler, many schools—including some here in New York—are issuing warnings to parents
In Staten Island, NY, parent coordinators sent out an alert to parents at Marsh Avenue Expeditionary Learn School (MAELS), telling them that “bringing in or engaging in the chip challenge is unsafe and strictly prohibited at school.”
Several videos posted by TikTok user @angela_b157 show a young girl eating the chip, reacting, and then winding up in the hospital.
“We know the difficulty of the challenge is a great part of its allure,” Paqui said in a statement. “That’s why we take safety very seriously and have worked hard to ensure our products are properly and clearly labeled with allergen and safety information. It is our intent that adult consumers take on this challenge with a full understanding of what it is and if it is appropriate for them.”
What Makes the Chips So Hot
Many people like spicy foods, but the One Chip Challenge takes this taste preference to an extreme. Here’s some perspective: The peppers used in the challenge have capsaicin, a super hot ingredient that’s also found in pepper spray.
“The chips are covered in quite a bit of substance from two of the hottest peppers in the world,” Laura Purdy, M.D., a family medicine physician, said. “People who are taking the challenge are supposed to wait as long as they can without drinking water or putting anything else in their mouth. It looks like children are suffering burns not only in their throat, but also all the way down their intestinal tract. There are cases of severe abdominal pain and even severe allergic reactions to people who do the challenge.”
If anyone does the challenge and immediately regrets it, Purdy recommends diluting the spice out as much as possible—and as soon as possible—by eating bland foods and drinking liquids.
“Food, liquids, milk, dairy,” she said. “Anything to lessen the blow of the spices as it assaults the GI system.”
Protecting Kids from the Dangers of Social Media Challenges
Some of the signature features of TikTok are its global challenges and trends. It’s difficult to monitor everything your child comes across on the platform, but there are some ways you can help deter them from doing something dangerous. Here’s some advice from experts on what parents should do if they want to stop their kids from doing dangerous social media challenges.
Have a ‘Boundaries and Social Media Chat
Don’t expect your kids to know where your limits are without explicitly telling them. A huge area parents often forget to prepare their kids for is the number of dangerous challenges they will see others do and brag about online, Bethany Cook, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, health service psychologist and adjunct professor, explained.
“Don’t get mad and forbid. Ask your child to be a part of the conversation,” Cook said. “Which challenges do they like or want to try? Talk them through your thought process as to which ones you feel are safe or not. If you always say ‘no’ they won’t come to you with questions.”
Guide Kids Who Are Challenge Seekers
If your child is the type to enjoy doing dangerous things, or they don’t think things through completely, they’ll need extra guidance in how to understand the ‘why.’
“Remember, the frontal lobes, which contain reason and judgment, don’t fully develop until a person is 24-26 years old. Make sure your expectations are inline with your child’s ability,” Cook said. “If you think they won’t be able to say ‘no’ to a challenge at a sleepover, don’t let them go. Host it instead and keep an eye on them.”
Stay in the Loop
As parents, it’s important for you to do your own research. Find challenges that are trending on social media platforms and ask your children about it. Talking about trends shows effort and interest, and is a way for parents and kids to build connections, Cook said.
Even though it’s impossible to come across every single thing your child sees, it’s important for parents to monitor their children’s use of social media anyway. This is especially true when it comes to cyber bullying, Dean Aslinia, Ph.D., LPC-S, University of Phoenix Associate Dean, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, said.
“Many parents are familiar with the types of bullying that used to take place in schools when they were children. However, the landscape of teen bullying has drastically changed. In the past, a child would be provided with a reprieve when they reached the safety of their home,” Aslinia said. “Such safety is no longer guaranteed in lieu of 24/7 online access of the bully.”
Teach Kids to Think Critically
Teaching your kids to think critically and analyze situations, trends and invitations online is also important.
“Otherwise, children will end up believing whatever they see, read or hear online, finding themselves in dangerous situations,” Aslinia said.
Other Dangerous TikTok Challenges
Here’s a look at just a few other dangerous TikTok challenges that have been made popular with millions of view:
Also known as ‘sleepy chicken,’ people marinate chicken in the liquid cold remedy presumably to eat. The FDA advised of the dangers, saying boiling a medication can make it much more concentrated, adding, “Someone could take a dangerously high amount of the cough and cold medicine without even realizing it.”
This TikTok challenge involves sliding a penny behind a partially plugged-in phone charger. This can result in sparks, electrical system damage and in some cases, fire. In 2020, a student (s) started a fire at their school in Massachusetts. Afterward, the state fire marshal sent out an advisory to fire departments, fire districts and others.
The Benadryl Challenge
Big in 2020, this one challenged people to take higher than recommended doses of the common OTC allergy medicine, diphenhydramine. News reports of teenagers ending up in emergency rooms came out, followed by another warning from the FDA saying the medication can “lead to serious heart problems, seizures, coma, or even death.”
Squid Game Clips
While not an actual challenge, clips from the popular Netflix drama started showing up on kids’ “For You” pages, depicting graphic scenes from the ultra-violent show.
Cha-Cha Slide Challenge
This one is exceptionally dangerous and involves people—quite often teenagers—recklessly driving along to the directionally descriptive lyrics of the song, Cha-Cha Slide. Popular last year, the challenge had TikTokers driving to words such as “slide to the left, slide to the right,” and “criss-cross,” making them swerve along the road. Needless to say, this not only put the person doing the challenge in danger, but other drivers, too.