Updated April 23rd, 2013: It seems the Cinnamon Challenge is back in the news after an article was published online in Pediatrics journal. The report said “at least 30 teens nationwide needed medical attention after taking the “challenge” last year.” See the following video from the Today Show for more information and read my blog post written on March 28th, 2012 for my thoughts on this challenge.
When I was in college I remember the “Gallon Challenge” being popular. It is when someone tries to drink a gallon of milk within one hour. Ultimately most people ended up throwing up. I first heard of the Cinnamon Challenge over a year ago and I associated it as another type of challenge that people were attempting for fun to see “if” they could accomplish it. In fact most of the stories I personally have heard regarding the Cinnamon Challenge has been adults attempting it, not teen.
Like many other teen trends, the media has gotten a hold of this one and is labeling it dangerous. I feel adults working with teens need to be aware of and share the dangerous of the cinnamon challenge with their teens. But I do not feel that this is a scary trend that we need to be overly alarmed over. I actually had no intention of even making a blog post regarding in. But I saw a segment on the Today Show this weekend that I felt made some great points that related to more than just the Cinnamon Challenge.
Steve Adubato, Ph.D, made several great points related to why teens would even engage in such a challenge. He made the point that teens feel they are superstars waiting to happen and sites like YouTube allow them to have their own reality show of sorts. Teens feel that they are just one video clip away from becoming a celebrity. If they can do the challenge better than others or be more outrageous than others they will get more views and in a sense become a viral video star. I cannot agree more.
One other thought I had while watching this was around the notion that teens are more likely to engage in risky or thrill seeking behavior than adults. I tend to agree with this especially when I look back at my teenage and college years, I can remember taking some crazy risks. I feel that is a part of why the Cinnamon Challenge has taken off with teens. It is risky but seems safe enough, therefore more teens are willing to give it a try. Unlike other activities, such as doing drugs or racing cars, the apparent risk is very low.
Tips for Youth Workers:
- Talk to teens about these types of challenges. Ask them if they would be willing to do it and why. It is a great opportunity to see into how they think and weigh risks.
- A Great question/conversation starter off of this idea would be “what is the most risky thing they would be willing to do to become famous?”
- Ask them what they think of reality TV stars? What are the positive and negative characteristics of them?
Tips for Parents:
- Talk to your teens about videos they see on YouTube and ask them if they have or would be willing to try some of the activities. And of course ask why or why not?
- Don’t go and hide the Cinnamon.
- Share with them the dangers of the cinnamon challenge.