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Challenges posted on social media platforms can have deadly results :

November 9, 2020

A dangerous challenge that encourages kids to take high doses of Benadryl is spreading on social media platforms.

“The Benadryl Challenge” started on the social media app TikTok. Videos suggest that participants take high doses of the over-the-counter allergy medication to cause hallucinations.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning after teens were hospitalized or died after overdosing on the medicine. The FDA recommends parents lock up medicines, including Benadryl, to prevent children from accidentally overdosing or misusing them.

The Benadryl Challenge is the most recent viral challenge. Earlier this year, “The Skull-Breaker Challenge” became popular. It involved two people kicking the legs out from under a third person, which can cause broken bones, concussion or death.

Nicole Baldwin, M.D., FAAP, is a pediatrician who uses social media to communicate with patients and families. She offered the following advice to parents:

  • Learn about social media platforms, including Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and TikTok. Different platforms have unique concerns.
  • Set guidelines with your children on how much time they should spend on social media. To create a family media plan, visit
  • Follow your children’s accounts to see what they post.
  • Talk to your children about what others post. Besides dangerous challenges, social media can create pressures and standards that can make adolescents feel bad about themselves.

Parents also should see what kinds of controls they can set on each platform. For example, privacy controls limit who can see what children share and who can contact them. Features that let other people see a child’s location can be disabled. TikTok has parental controls that allow caregivers to set time limits, filter out mature content and disable direct messaging.

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