Crossing the Line: 10 Dangerous Social Media Challenges From the Last 10 Years

Humans are social animals with an innate desire for attention. Social media capitalizes on this need, which is why people love joining viral “challenges.”

Some of these challenges — like the mannequin challenge and the trashtag challenge — are admittedly awesome. Others are just plain silly. Worse, many social media trends have proven to be dangerous and even deadly. These are some of the most dangerous social media challenges from the last 10 years.

10. The Back Cracking Challenge

The back cracking challenge is fairly innocent. It consists of two people helping each other, well, crack their backs.

It’s a mystery how this even went viral, given how absolutely boring it is. But the universe has many mysteries that will never be resolved. While this isn’t a challenge that will result in death, the medical community has come out to speak against it.

Why the Back Cracking Challenge Is Dangerous

There’s a reason chiropractors are required to have a license. It’s absurdly easy to throw your back out, especially if you’re letting someone align it based on a TikTok video. Back problems can be painful and may take long to heal. Plus, treatments aren’t cheap. Don’t let social media ruin your health and bank account.

9. The Coronavirus Challenge

Back in March 2020, there were still many people who did not take coronavirus seriously. Springbreakers rushed to Florida taking advantage of cheap tickets, not long before realizing the global pandemic would be much more serious than they thought.

Another person who thought it was a joke was Ava Louise, an influencer highly lacking in common sense as well as basic personal hygiene. As a desperate ploy to get followers, she filmed herself licking an airplane toilet seat in what she called the “coronavirus challenge.”

Why the Coronavirus Challenge Is Dangerous

There is no proof that you’ll get COVID-19 by licking a toilet seat, but you definitely don’t want the things that are accumulated on an airplane toilet seat in your mouth. Particularly human faeces particles, which can contain the life-threatening Vibrio cholerae bacteria.

The trend quickly spiralled into people licking other bacteria-ridden surfaces like subway poles. One participant did test positive for COVID a few days after doing the challenge, though there’s no way to prove he got it from the toilet seat. Thankfully, it seems like only a handful of people were gross enough to try this.

8. The ‘Bird Box’ Challenge

Sandra Bullock’s post-apocalyptic movie, “Bird Box” showed the actress completing stunts like rowing a boat through rapids while blindfolded. Naturally, this inspired people to attempt everyday tasks with something over their eyes.

Why the ‘Bird Box’ Challenge Is Dangerous

Like planking, the “Bird Box” challenge isn’t inherently dangerous. There are plenty of things you can try to do blindfolded that would not put you at risk of injury. But once again, people don’t fully understand common-sense lines.

The worst form of the challenge had people driving while blindfolded. Participants included controversial YouTuber (and now boxing star) Jake Paul. Given that cars are small flammable tanks, responsible for the death of 1.35 million people each year, this is irresponsible beyond words.


7. The Kiki Challenge

If you were on social media in 2018, you had to have seen some iteration of the Kiki challenge. Started by American comedian Shiggy, the original video showed him dancing to Drake’s “In My Feelings” in a street. That then morphed into people getting out of a moving car and dancing in the middle of roads.

Why the Kiki Challenge Is Dangerous

Though the Kiki challenge was definitely fun, it also caused several people to get injured. Most of them got injured as they left the car, since it’s very easy to trip when you exit a moving car — even one moving slowly.

But some people also weren’t too careful to do the challenge on the side of the road where no cars would come, with one man getting hit by his friend’s car as he tripped when he was supposed to jump on its hood. But perhaps the most reckless part of the challenge was the one you didn’t see, since drivers were usually the ones taking videos of their friends.

6. The Outlet Challenge

People like things that spark, and teenagers love science as long as it’s not in the classroom. This is how young, impressionable teens started partially plugging a charger head into a wall outlet and then dropping a coin into the gap. The whole point is to get an electrical reaction.

Why the Outlet Challenge Is Dangerous

Did you think once your kids are no longer toddlers you wouldn’t have to worry about them putting their fingers inside a socket? We got really bad news because, once again, teenagers have proven to be very big toddlers. This extremely dangerous trend can cause the outlet to fry in the best-case scenario. In the worst scenarios, it can cause a fire or electrocution. No recorded cases of death have occurred, thankfully.

5. Skull Breaker Challenge

Just as its name suggests, this prank challenge is meant to cause the victim to fall on the floor. The prank consists of two people who get the prankee to stand in the middle and jump, purportedly for a cute video. But instead of jumping, the prankers kick their feet out, causing them to fall backward in the air.

Why the Skull Breaker Challenge Is Dangerous

We’re sure no one who has participated in this challenge has actually wanted to hurt anyone. But given its name, everyone should’ve known better. There have been numerous reported injuries across the world because of this challenge. Two teenagers in Daytona Beach, Florida were even charged with a misdemeanour for the injuries they caused their friend while doing this challenge.

4. The Hot Water Challenge

Another prank challenge that is extremely dangerous is the hot water challenge. It usually consists of throwing boiling water on an unsuspecting or sleeping friend. Sometimes, the people are awake and willingly participate in the challenge. Other times, they pour it on themselves.

Why the Hot Water Challenge Is Dangerous

Like the outlet challenge, you would expect kids over the age of 4 to understand the dangers of boiling water. Though participants probably don’t actually want to harm their friends, they usually end up burning them badly, especially when the water is poured on their face.

Sadly, there have been cases of severe burns, like an 11-year-old who had to be rushed to the hospital after her friend threw boiling water on her. There is also a case of an 8-year-old from Florida who died from wounds sustained after drinking boiling water, another version of the challenge. The challenge appeared sometime around 2017 and was popular until 2018. It is now replaced by a challenge that involves throwing hot water in the air during winter to create pretty images.


3. The Tide Pod Challenge

Maybe the most famous of social media challenges, the Tide Pod challenge gained notoriety because of its utter ridiculousness. In late 2017, teenagers once again lowered the bar of common sense by daring each other to eat Tide pods, small laundry detergent sachets.

Why the Tide Pod Challenge Is Dangerous

We don’t really have to explain this, do we? Laundry detergent is toxic and should never be consumed. Also, eating a large plastic satchel can cause you to choke. People, especially small children, die from eating Tide pods. But usually, these cases are accidents, not something done on purpose for likes. Though the number of teens participating in this challenge was small, the trend was scary enough to cause a frenzy.

2. The Benadryl Challenge

There’s a special place in the pits of hell for whoever decided to convince kids to take large amounts of Benadryl. Used mainly as allergy medication, Benadryl’s key side effects include drowsiness. Taken in large enough quantities, though, it can cause a “high” that teens erroneously think is safe because it’s a substance they’re familiar with.

Why the Benadryl Challenge Is Dangerous

It should go without saying that taking large amounts of any medication can cause adverse side effects. Pushing boundaries for views or likes, some teenagers have taken this challenge to the extreme. The challenge has led to hospitalizations and — in the case of one Oklahoma teen — death from overdose.

1. The Blackout Challenge

Perhaps no social media challenge has proven as deadly as the blackout challenge, which encourages kids to suffocate themselves until they pass out. This is sometimes done by holding one’s breath for prolonged periods of time, but it can sometimes include strangulation with belts that are supposed to loosen up as soon as the participant blacks out. The challenge has existed in some form since the 1990s and resurfaces once in a while.

Why the Blackout Challenge Is Dangerous

Most injuries related to this challenge happen when participants — most of whom are underage — faint and hit themselves against objects in the room. A bad enough fall can cause a concussion or trauma serious enough to warrant going to the hospital.

Cutting off oxygen to the brain can be harmful. If sustained for too long, it can even lead to a coma. Sadly, this has happened to several children, two of which have been left brain dead. At least one of them had to be taken off life support after not showing any signs of improvement. Numerous children have died because of this challenge. The parents of two have come together to sue TikTok for its irresponsible algorithm.

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