Learn the Truth Behind Teen Peer Pressure Challenges

Learn the Truth Behind Teen Peer Pressure Challenges

Your sweet little toddler has grown up. Suddenly, the two of you aren’t talking as much. You aren’t always sure what is going on in your kid’s world. Who is your teen spending time with? What are they doing?

During the teen years, parents need to pay extra attention to their kids’ activities. If you think your teen may be using drugs or alcohol, or participating in dangerous challenges, talk with them. Tell them what you’ve observed, ask questions, and listen.

Most importantly, educate yourself about the pressures teens face today. When you understand the landscape, you can help your child make smarter decisions and healthier choices. Here are some of the teen pressures that should be on your radar.

Pressure to Drink and Smoke

Peer pressure to try cigarettes, alcohol and other drugs is nothing new. Still, it’s worrisome. Most adolescents who abuse drugs or alcohol start due to peer pressure. Nearly 90 percent of cigarette smokers say they first tried smoking by the age of 18. leaving site icon The latest available stats for underage drinking leaving site icon reveal that 5.9 million young people 12 to 20 years old report drinking alcohol within the past month. The report also reveals 3.2 million underage young people admitted to binge drinking

Peer Pressure from Social Media

Dangerous trends can spread quickly on social media. Teens often view and post videos of harmful physical “challenges”. Social media can also lead to peer pressure to participate in cyberbullying and online shaming if someone doesn’t complete a dare. 

Peer Challenges
Not only do these challenges encourage risky behavior, they can lead to other risks like sexual activity and substance use. Here are some popular TikTok and YouTube challenges to keep on your radar. Talk with your children to warn them about the serious dangers of these challenges.

  • Benadryl challenge. Kids are encouraged to take large number of the over-the-counter antihistamine pills to trigger hallucinations. When misused, Benadryl can cause seizures, heart problems, comas and even death. Keep all your medications, even over-the-counter ones stored safely and away from the kids and teens in your home.
  • Beezin’ challenge. Touted as a way to boost a buzz, kids rub Burt’s Bees menthol or peppermint lip balm on their eyelids before going out. Dangerous side effects noted include eye irritation and swelling – even vision loss.
  • Blackout challenge. Participants are choked in an effort to achieve a “high” feeling. It can lead to serious injury and death.
  • Borg challenge. With this challenge, alcohol, electrolytes and water are mixed together in one jug. Participants then quickly gulp the mixture. Teens wrongly think consuming alcohol this way slows intoxication and staves off  hangovers. In truth, it amounts to binge drinking.
  • Chroming challenge. Teens inhale the contents of an aerosol can. Spray-on deodorant seems to be the most popular choice. This very dangerous challenge can trigger cardiac arrest and lead to life-ending brain damage.
  • Eraser challenge. Individuals rub a pencil eraser against their skin to see who can withstand the pain the longest. The friction can create burns that may lead to tissue loss or scarring.
  • Ice and salt challenge. Participants sprinkle salt on their skin and press an ice cube into the salt. The “winner” is the teen who’s able to keep the ice on their skin the longest. The combination of salt and ice can lower the temperature of the skin and tissues and cause severe frostbite.

Sometimes, it’s a good idea to have someone outside your family discuss a difficult topic with your teen. Schedule an annual wellness visit with your child’s pediatrician. Your teen’s doctor is an expert who can discuss risky behaviors and their consequences without the emotion of family dynamics. 

Have you navigated a tough conversation with your teen? Help your fellow parents by posting ice breakers in the comments

Sources: Youth Initiatives, leaving site icon Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 2023; Highlights for the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, leaving site icon Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2022; Social Media: Cyberbullying, Body Shaming and Trauma, leaving site icon The Child Advocacy Center, 2023; What Is the Impact of Online Shaming and Cyberbullying?, leaving site icon The Jerusalem Post, 2020; 7 Dangerous TikTok Challenges, leaving site icon Fox News, 2023; 18 Crazy YouTube Challenges Kids Are Doing, leaving site icon Today’s Parent, 2020

Originally published 1/18/2016; Revised 2021, 2023