The Tide Pod Challenge

The late, great, irreplaceable comedian George Carlin once asked: “Whatever happened to natural selection? Survival of the fittest? The kid who swallows too many marbles doesn’t grow up to have kids of his own! Simple as that!”
And while he was joking, there’s an element of truth in his words. The most recent viral kid challenge has many wondering the same thing.

There was the cinnamon challenge, where kids (and some adults) challenged each other to eat a heaping tablespoon of pure cinnamon while filming the disaster to post on social media.

The Kylie Jenner lip challenge involved girls trying to plump up their lips by covering them with a shot glass, bottle cap or hose. They’d suck in and cause a temporary (but sometimes not) extreme lip plumping.

And even worse, there have been challenges that have resulted in severe injuries and even death, including the pass out/fainting challenge where kids would either try to choke their friends until they passed out, or try to hyperventilate or choke themselves.

So in these days of 24/7 social media, peer pressure, and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), kids will try anything to gain entry to the cool group, no matter how stupid, dangerous, or even life-threatening it is.

The latest viral trend is the Tide pod challenge. These colorful, jewel-like laundry detergent pods may help mom keep from spilling old-school detergent on the floor, but for years, they’ve been mistakenly ingested by babies and toddlers because they look sparkly and resemble candy. Who wouldn’t be mesmerized by them? Despite this, the company still produces them and babies and toddlers continue to poison themselves.The Tide pod challenge involves EATING Tide laundry detergent pods – the more the better – and filming it to post on social media.

But the level of stupidity involved in an older child, teenagers, and even young adults succumbing to this kind of peer pressure is beyond understanding. It’s one thing if your buddy dares you to lick a frozen flagpole or see how many marshmallows you can eat before you throw up.

But the pressure to be the brightest, the fastest, the smartest, the thinnest, and whatever other “est” is out there has reached uncontrollable, deadly proportions. And kids will do whatever they think they need to do to be popular, get clicks on their social media accounts, and be relevant. And not “miss out.”

It seems only now when several university students have landed in the hospital have parents and detergent companies taken notice. Procter & Gamble, Tide’s parent company, has even enlisted New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski to release a PSA to discourage anyone from even playing with the pods.

Who would have thought that additional warnings from health officials would be needed to alert kids that eating laundry detergent could kill them?

Oh yeah, that’s right. Kids don’t read warnings. They read their smartphones and tablets to see how many “likes” they received on their YouTube channels and other social media.

It’s up to parents, mentors, teachers, and level-headed adults to make sure our kids (young or old) are safe. Intervene. Ground. Do whatever you have to do to protect your children from danger. Be the sane one in their lives. Who cares what they think of you. It’s no longer about eating marshmallows or getting freezer burn. It’s life and death.