8 Ridiculous Social Media Challenges That Can Kill You

Ridiculous and Sometimes Fatal Social Media Challenges

Cheapism; Liudmila Chernetska/istockphoto/ Screenshot via YouTube; Lightspruch/istockphoto

Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.
Ridiculous and Sometimes Fatal Social Media Challenges
Cheapism; Liudmila Chernetska/istockphoto/ Screenshot via YouTube; Lightspruch/istockphoto

Foolish Ways to Die

Social media isn't always fun and games; it can sometimes lead to dangerous trends and food challenges that take things too far — especially for young, impressionable audiences. These extreme challenges that dare one to not use the bathroom (why, just why!) to win a gaming console, or eat a ghost pepper chip just to impress strangers on the internet, aren't just harmless or frivolous — they can sometimes kill you. 

From putting one's health on the line to encouraging reckless behavior, these social media challenges reveal a troubling trend where the search for online fame overshadows safety (and common sense). 

Editor's note: These activities are unsafe and should never be attempted.

Related: Hot Trends of Years Past  

Gloved hand holding a hot tortilla chip with poison symbol. Concept for hot chip challenge.
Wii fit system by Nintendo

2. Water Holding Challenge (Hold Your Wee for a Wii)

Participants in this challenge were encouraged to drink excessive amounts of water without urinating to win a gaming console. But doing this can lead to water intoxication or hyponatremia, where the balance of electrolytes in the body is disrupted. This can cause life-threatening conditions such as brain swelling, kidney failire, seizures, coma, or even death. 

A tragic case involved Jennifer Strange, a 28-year-old woman from California, who died after participating in a radio station contest to win a Wii console. Her family was awarded $16.5 million by a California jury in a settlement. 

For more stories like this,
please sign up for our free newsletters.

Cinnamon sticks and powder, macro shot
Marko Jan/istockphoto

3. Cinnamon Challenge

This challenge requires participants to swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon in under a minute without drinking water. The cinnamon can cause coughing, choking, and a burning sensation in the mouth, throat, and lungs. Inhalation of the fine powder can also lead to respiratory distress and has been associated with cases of pneumonia and collapsed lungs, a life-threatening condition. 

Allergy Medication Spilled from a Bottle
Michelle Lee Photography/istockphoto

4. Benadryl Challenge

This ultra-foolish challenge involves taking large doses of the antihistamine Benadryl to induce hallucinations. But high doses can lead to severe health issues, including heart problems, seizures, coma, and even death, the Food and Drug Administration warns. The challenge has been linked to several hospitalizations and fatalities, prompting safety warnings from medical professionals. 

In 2023, the challenge resulted in the death of a 13-year-old boy from Ohio after he consumed 12-14 pills. “When he did, it all came at once, and it was too much for his body,” the boy's father said in a televised interview. 

Many dishwasher detergent pods on green background, flat lay
Liudmila Chernetska/istockphoto

4. Tide Pod Challenge

Popularized on social media, this challenge involves biting into or consuming laundry detergent pods, which are highly toxic. Ingesting these pods can cause severe mouth, throat, and stomach burns, vomiting, diarrhea, or even respiratory issues. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported a spike in calls related to this challenge, highlighting its perilous consequences — especially among teenagers. 

Kiki Challenge
Screenshot via YouTube

6. Kiki Challenge

Also known as the "In My Feelings" challenge, this trend involves people jumping out of a moving car and dancing alongside it to the song "In My Feelings" by Drake. But the challenge can be incredibly dangerous as it can lead to severe injuries from falls, getting hit by other vehicles, or causing traffic accidents. Numerous injuries have been reported, and authorities have issued warnings about the risks involved.

In 2018, 18-year-old Anna Worden was "critically injured" while trying to do the challenge in Iowa. “The last thing I remember was opening the door,” Worden said. “So apparently I got out and tripped and fell and hit my head.”

Ice Cube Tray Filled With Ice Cubes and Three Loose Ice Cubes, Selective Focus of Loose Ice Cubes
john shepherd/istockphoto

7. Salt and Ice Challenge

In this challenge, participants place salt on their skin and then press an ice cube against it for as long as they can tolerate the pain. This causes a burning sensation and frostbite-like injuries. The combination of salt and ice can lower the body's temperature significantly, which can then lead to second-degree burns, permanent scarring, and even nerve damage.

The challenge resulted in severe burns for a slew of teenagers across the U.S. "These 'challenges' are there, I feel, to make children fail," said the mother of an Iowa teen who was hospitalized with second and third-degree burns. "Then, the world tells them— degrades them. My son is a lot smarter than what he did."

Masculine hands grip rope, pulling apart. Black and white.

8. Blackout Challenge

This dangerous challenge that first took off on TikTok involves cutting off oxygen to the brain to achieve a brief high or euphoric feeling. Participants may use hands, ropes, or other devices to induce temporary asphyxiation. But the risk of accidental death is high, as prolonged oxygen deprivation can lead to brain damage, seizures, and fatal outcomes.

In 2022, a 12-year-old boy from Ohio died after participating in the viral challenge. “They called me and said, ‘Mom, Tristan is dead’ and I just started to panic,” the victim's mother told EMS1 in Cleveland.