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Our news feeds are filled with stories of social media trends gone wrong, as impressionable children engage in risky behaviors in search of attention but all too often find broken bones or serious illness instead.

Parents are left wondering what makes dangerous social media challenges so attractive to teens and preteens, and maybe incorrectly assuming their child wouldn’t be foolish enough to make the same mistake.

"Personal connection is so important, especially to teens. Social media challenges can be a powerful way for some to feel connected and receive attention," said Dr. Gautam Bhasin, a psychologist at Holy Name. "When kids engage in these behaviors, they just do what others are doing, seemingly becoming part of something bigger than themselves and gaining a feeling of acceptance."

Among the current challenges most popular with kids and young adults are stunts involving overeating, jumping or falling from heights, and abusing over the counter medications. Each can cause injury or even put your child’s life at risk.

Holy Name specialists outline the dangers of three risky challenges:

Pancake / "IHOP" Challenge

This challenge involves children intentionally overeating extreme amounts of food in a set amount of time. Common injuries include uncontrollable vomiting and damage to gastrointestinal organs.

"Most of the damage occurs to the digestive tract, starting with putting pressure on the esophageal sphincter," said Dr. David Shaker, an internal medicine physician at Holy Name. "This can have prolonged effects on bodily functions such as eating, belching, and vomiting, and can cause labored breathing."

Other risks include a torn esophagus, burst blood vessels, diarrhea or a distended stomach, sometimes requiring surgery. On rare occasions, social media extreme eating challenges have led to choking and death.

Milk Crate Challenge

This challenge sees participants build a pyramid from milk crates, usually between 7 and 10 feet high, then attempt to climb and stand atop the structure. When the pyramid collapses, climbers often fall in an awkward manner with no way to brace themselves.

Common injuries from this stunt and others like it include traumatic bone breaks, concussions, spine injuries and torn ligaments. "Falling from ‘obstacles’ like this is often worse than something like falling off a ladder," said Dr. Dennis Pfisterer, an orthopedic surgeon at Holy Name. "Sudden drops with no way to brace your fall usually cause more severe injuries."

Benadryl Challenge

This challenge dares kids to ingest massive amounts of over-the-counter allergy medications like Bendadryl to induce hallucinations. But taking more than the recommended doses can lead to serious heart problems, seizures, coma and death.

"When someone overdoses on a medication like Benadryl, treatment is often limited to alleviating pain and minimizing the damage done," said Dr. Thomas Kreibich, Chief of Neurology at Holy Name. "Young people participating in this challenge don’t realize they could suffer life-long damage from doing this. They could even die."

If you suspect someone has taken too much Benadryl or other antihistamine, or if they collapse, have a seizure, or have trouble breathing, call 911 immediately.

Regardless of the specific challenges, it is important to closely monitor childrens’ exposure to social media content and directly discuss the possible consequences of participating in viral trends.

"Let your child know that no subject is taboo. Encourage them to feel safe talking to you," Dr. Bhasin says. "This empowers them to make the right choices no matter what TikTok throws at them."