17/01/2018 17:00 GMT

Tide Pod Challenge: How Worried Should Parents Be?

The National Poisons Information Service will put your mind at rest.


Every week it seems there is a new internet craze for children to share, and while many are just harmless fun, for parents it can be difficult to know how worried you should be about dangerous stunts like the Tide Pod Challenge.

The challenge sees teenagers and children filming themselves appearing to take bites out of laundry detergent tabs, despite the potential health risks.

Children are likely to have come across this footage on the internet or heard about it in the playground, but parents in England will be relieved to learn that it seems most are not tempted to take part.

The National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) has told HuffPost UK they have not had any cases of teenage exposure to laundry detergent tabs in the last six months.

Mike Blake / Reuters

There has long been concern about babies accidentally eating the tabs and incidents of babies playing with them have been reported as recently as last year

In fact, laundry-detergent-maker Ariel, has a warning on its website and in a recent UK television advert, about the importance of keeping the tabs out of the reach of babies and in the safe, lockable container. 

Although the issue was recognised in babies as an accident, it was never previously seen as something done on purpose by older children. Until now. 

There have been 39 reports of teenagers intentionally misusing the pods..."

The American Association of Poison Control Centres (AAPCC) revealed 39 reports of American teenagers intentionally misusing the pods came in during the first 15 days of 2018 alone, according to Time magazine

To put that in context, you should consider that in the duration of 2017, there were 53 individual cases, suggesting that it is on the rise. 

In fact, the Tide Pod Challenge has become so widely recognised by teenagers, and some fascinated adults, that there are a growing number of memes and accounts dedicated it. 

The majority of teens may be wise enough to avoid partaking in the stunt, however, it is still an important topic to address with your kids, to gauge their understanding of how important it is to question things seen online.

Do they think this is something that is safe to do for laughs? Do they understand that videos may have been staged?

Having the discussion now will mean they’re better prepared for the next viral challenge that comes along.

A spokesperson for UK Safer Internet, told HuffPost UK: “The internet is full of great content to engage and educate young people... however some of these challenges aren’t for a good cause. 

“All children and parents need to be ready to deal with such challenges, whether they are rumoured or real.”

What should parents do? 

“We would advise parents and carers to have an open and honest conversation with their children,” the spokesperson said.

“Ask your children about what they’re seeing online and be prepared to talk about some difficult topics such as self-harm, suicide and negative influences online.”

This also includes talking about the reality of the internet and what they see portrayed online, whether that is a stunt or edited photographs on Instagram.

Keep your child safe online by considering things such as age-restricted content, privacy settings on your computer and blocking (or reporting) content that you discover and don’t wish your child to have access to.

The NSPCC has some great advice for when you need to talk about difficult topics.