I was reading the Seattle Times online during my bus ride home after work when I noticed a link entitled "11 Dangerous Teenage Trends All Parents Should Know About". Being a parent, I thought I'd check it out since the Internet has so much information and this is something I apparently should know about. The site irritatingly listed one trend per page and I was near the end of the bus trip so I didn't get through all of them until I got home. After reviewing them I asked a teen, my own daughter, what she knew about these dangerous trends.
I put her response after each.
Planking: The activity involves lying face-down on any surface. Once in position, the participant's friends take a picture and share it on the web through various social media outlets. It might sound harmless and even funny, but some teens have expanded their creativity and planked on unusual and sometimes dangerous surfaces such as rooftops, vehicles, or escalators. Many have been injured and at least one death has been reported.
Oh, that's people lying on the kitchen counter like this (demonstrates) and then saying, "Take a picture." I never thought of it as dangerous but I have seen some sketchy places like the top of a totem pole.
Vodka Eyeballing: Teenagers are quick to find new ways to consume alcohol without leaving the obvious smell of booze on their breath. This new trend involves pouring vodka directly into the eye, passing through the mucous membrane and entering the bloodstream through the veins around the eyeball. The result is a quick buzz. If done often, this activity can burn or scar the cornea, and in some extreme cases cause blindness.
What? That would burn so bad. Who would do that?
The Choking game: This game creates a momentary high parallel to that caused by the use of certain drugs. The child uses various restraints to cut off the flow of blood to the brain, depriving it of oxygen. After the restraint is released, the blood immediately rushes back into the brain and evokes that natural high feeling. Many who have played this game have passed out and lost consciousness.
What? People do that? Now that's just stupid.
Vodka Gummy Bears: News broke recently about YouTube videos that showed how to infuse candy with alcohol. Kids now have access to a step-by-step tutorial on how to soak gummy bears in vodka and consume them in plain view just about anywhere. The result is an instant buzz not easily detected on their breath. The candy is often consumed in big amounts, rapidly leading to high levels of intoxication. Kids are unaware of the amounts of alcohol in each piece of candy so they begin popping gummy bears until the buzz kicks in. Reports have shown that several kids have ended up in the E.R. being treated for alcohol poisoning.
Yeah, I've heard of that. The bears just dissolve.
Smoking Smarties: Also fueled by internet tutorials, smoking smarties involve crushing the candy until it is in powder form. Once fully dissolved, an opening is made on the side of the package to allow puffing the sugar powder and exhaling it like cigarette smoke. Inhaling the sugar powder from the smarties candies can cause infections, chronic coughing, and even choking.
Yeah, we did that at camp once. It didn't do anything.
Tampon Drunkenness: A tampon is soaked in alcohol and then inserted in a girl's vagina or a boy's rectum. The alcohol is soaked up by the vaginal walls, creating the feeling of being intoxicated without sipping alcohol directly. Besides the obvious risks to those private body parts, the tampon can soak up about a shot of alcohol, increasing the risk of alcohol poisoning.
What? You gotta be kidding me?
Distilling Hand Sanitizer: This inexpensive and very accessible product is easy for kids to get their hands on. Salt is used to separate the high quantities of alcohol found in hand sanitizer, which is then consumed. The amount of alcohol used by distilling hand sanitizers is equivalent to that of a shot of hard liquor. Several cases have been reported, and a few teenagers have required medical treatment for alcohol poising as a result. Parents are urged to buy the foam type of sanitizer or ones that do not list ethanol as their prime ingredient.
No. You don't drink hand sanitizer.
Car Surfing: Here's how it works: teenagers climb on top of a car, hold onto the roof, and pretend to surf while the driver hits the pedal and drives. The faster the car, the greater the fame for the rooftop surfer. Some kids have gone to the extreme, and tried surfing on top of trains and subways.
Purple Drink: This drink has become famous because of various rap artists who drink it in videos. Even NFL players have gotten in on the act. The drink includes a mixture of Sprite, Jolly Ranchers, and codeine cough syrup. It is highly toxic and can cause hallucinations, unresponsiveness, and lethargy. This concoction has been glamorized in the music industry so much so that a style of music has even been created to showcase the effects of the drink.
I've heard of that. I don't know what the Jolly Ranchers are for.
ChatRoulette.com: This website allows the user to anonymously chat online with anyone without the use of security blocks or filters. The website is easy to use and does not protect users from adult content or disturbing images. Once you're logged on, the site pairs you up with a stranger. The user can choose to skip and go to the next pairing, or chat with that individual.
I got on that once with my girl friend and we saw lots of penises. It got pretty disgusting.
Bath Salts: Commonly referred to as "Purple Wave" and "Bliss," this drug contains high levels of mephedrone, methylone, and MDPV, three drugs that cause hallucinations when smoked, snorted, or injected. Until recently, these salts were often found in smoke shops and were sold legally in the U.S. This drug can cause paranoia, suicidal behavior, and chest pain.
That's why I wanted to watch that show (note: it was either Addicted or Intervention) about that girl who was addicted to bath salts.
I was curious as to why this posting from June 2012 would appear on the Seattle Times page. It was in an area labeled More from the Web so I'm assuming it was a sponsored link and I made the site a couple of pennies by clicking on it.
You'll notice these are presented as trends but without any supporting data to back that up. Just because some kids do something stupid, it doesn't mean there's a trend.
When I was a kid, way back in the 60's, we had our own dangerous trends. Like see how close we could get to each other's feet without hitting them with a dart. I'll never forget pulling that dart from the back of my hand that one time. We'd play fighter pilot on bicycles. You maneuvered like crazy and get on someone's tail and keep hitting their rear wheel with your front wheel until they crashed. We dipped Skoal, ran out and thumped cars as they drove by and pretend we got hit, shoot bottle rockets at police cars, and all kinds of idiotic stuff. Stupid, yes. But not dangerous trends.
No, if you want to warn parents about dangerous teen trends, write about subjects like student debt, teen obesity, teen bullying, or teen pregnancy. Subjects like those have far greater consequences affecting many more young people than those few idiots who try sticking a vodka-soaked tampon up their butts.