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What Is the Blackout Challenge, and How Does It Work? The Trend Killed a 10-Year-Old Girl—Why Here’s It’s So Dangerous

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Parents should be aware of various physical indications that may suggest their kid is attempting the Blackout Challenge.

Another frightening internet challenge is circulating, and this one has claimed the lives of multiple youngsters.

The “Blackout Challenge” tests people’s ability to hold their breath for an extended period of time. Nyla Anderson, a 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl, is the most recent victim of this challenge.

“She happened to be in her own bedroom, with her family at home,” Elizabeth Wood, a certified clinical social worker with the Division of Critical Care Medicine in the PICU at Nemours Children’s Hospital, told Philadelphia’s ABC station WPVI. “However, no one was in the room with her when this happened, so no one could save her.”

Tawainna Anderson, her mother, told WPVI, “I’m very sad.” “This is a persistent annoyance. It’s right in the middle of my throat. I’m in excruciating pain.” According to PEOPLE, at least three additional youngsters, ranging in age from nine to twelve, have perished after attempting the challenge this year.

This isn’t a new trend. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the “Choking Game” or “Pass-Out Challenge” has been around since at least 2008, when 82 children died after trying it (CDC). According to the CDC, the majority of children who died in 2008 were between the ages of 11 and 16, and instances were reported in 31 states. “The choking game,” according to the CDC, “involves purposely trying to suffocate oneself or another in order to achieve a short euphoric state or high.'”

What makes the Blackout Challenge so risky?

The challenge of testing how long you can go without breathing, according to Mindy Dickerman, assistant division head for the Pediatric Critical Care Division at Nemours Children’s Hospital, can lead to strangling.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, brain cells begin to die after five minutes of low oxygen. If someone is deprived of oxygen for an extended amount of time, they may develop a coma, experience convulsions, suffer brain damage, or even die.

What can you do to keep your children safe?

Anderson told WPVI she was surprised that someone as young as her daughter would consider taking on this assignment. She stated, “You wouldn’t believe 10-year-olds would try this.” “They’re doing their best because they’re youngsters who don’t know any better.”

It’s easy to assume that your child would never do something like this, but study has shown that more children are aware of respiratory difficulties than most people realize. According to an Oregon Public Health Division poll of eighth-graders done in 2008, 36.2 percent had at least heard of the choking game, 30.4 percent had heard of someone participating in it, and 5.7 percent had actually attempted it. That was in 2008, and social media is now even more popular.

The poll also discovered that teenagers who had mental health risk factors or were involved in drug abuse were more likely to take part in the challenge.

Given that the Blackout Challenge—and other potentially dangerous challenges—have been circulating on social media, clinical psychologist Thea Gallagher, PsyD, an assistant professor at NYU Langone Health and co-host of the mental health-focused Mind in View podcast, tells Health that it’s important to know how often your child uses social media and what they’re using it for. “You should endeavor to stay on top of recent difficulties,” she advises. “Then discuss it with your youngster.”

In this scenario, she suggests first asking your child whether they’ve heard of the Blackout Challenge and then discussing why it’s risky. Gallagher advises, “Focus on education.” Also, be open and honest about what you’re seeing and your own worries. “In this scenario, explain to them about concerns like blocking your airways and not getting enough oxygen, and what that may do to a child,” Gallagher advises.

Physical symptoms that your kid is attempting the Blackout Challenge or related fainting challenges are listed by the CDC as follows:

  • Eyes that are bloodshot
  • Their necks have scars
  • Terrible throbbing headaches
  • Becoming bewildered after being alone for a long period of time
  • Ropes, scarves, and belts discovered knotted on the floor or attached to bedroom furniture or doorknobs
  • Having unaccounted for items such as dog leashes, choke collars, and bungee cords

Gallagher suggests keeping an eye on what your child is doing on social media and asking questions if your child is younger. If you believe your child is using social media incorrectly or if you have worries about their usage, Gallagher says you may limit or eliminate their use.

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