Ever hear of the Darwin Awards? It’s an actual thing – the Darwin Awards are given out (almost always posthumously) to people who have found the dumbest ways to die. You want to feel sorry for a Darwin Award recipient – because they’re dead and all – but often it’s tough to find much sympathy for someone who met their end trying to win a bet by doing something like proving they can stand on the roof of a moving car while it does 70 down the highway.
Some of the most ridiculous injuries in history have come immediately after the injured person said, “Hey, watch this!” And nothing kills brain cells faster than watching someone do something on the Internet and deciding that you can do it better. (Think “Jackass” here.)
Such is now the case with what’s become known as “The Cinnamon Challenge”. Here’s how it works: You try – usually as the result of a dare, or too much hockey without a helmet – to swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon in 60 seconds, without the benefit of some water to help it go down. Then, hilarity ensues as your friends watch you spew out a cloud of red “smoke” from your mouth, which is truly hilarious until you realize that the reason you’re spitting it out so violently is because ground cinnamon is caustic, and can cause a host of problems from choking to throat irritation to collapsed lungs.
Come on, what’s funnier than collapsed lungs?
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the number of poison control center calls as a result of the stunt jumped to 222 last year; so it’s hardly an epidemic that’s spinning out of control, but it sure seems to be gathering steam on the Interwebs. Evidently a “click here for hilarious videos of people in varying stages of a medical crisis” link would be a big draw.
All judgment aside, this is yet another one of those things you need to make sure your kids are aware is dangerous. Then again, sometimes just making kids aware of the latest dumb prank might be enough to tempt them to try it themselves. And sometimes, even presenting all the facts isn’t enough; after all, countless people try their first cigarette every day, and I’d say the negative potential of smoking has been pretty well documented.
When it comes to “do this, don’t do that”, parents often throw in the towel and think that kids are going to do what they’re going to do. So our challenge becomes finding ways to counter peer pressure. At the risk of sounding like all I have is a hammer (and so I see every problem as a nail), I think your most powerful tool in that battle is communication. If you haven’t yet established lines of communication with your kids where you can bring up something like this and make your concerns known in an impactful way, today’s the day to start – even right now.
I won’t be offended if you don’t read all the way to the bottom of the screen. And if you only get involved when there’s a fire to put out, it’ll be tougher to get traction. Start by talking with them about things they’re interested in. Find out what they like about the things they like. Watch their shows with them. Listen to their songs. Get to know your kids beyond their role as offspring, and learn who they are as people.
If you’ve been effective at getting your kids to avoid smoking, along with the myriad seemingly innocuous substances around your house that can be disastrous if misused, then there’s probably wisdom in having a talk with your kids about how dangerous The Cinnamon Challenge can be. Maybe lead with a story you read on some website somewhere [wink wink] about a kid that went to hospital with collapsed lungs. And as with all things, keeping an eye on what your kids are looking at online is always a good idea.
Now the CinnaBON Challenge – that’s something I can get behind. I can inhale one of those things in 60 seconds with no trouble at all.
MORE THOUGHTS FROM NEIL HEDLEY: