Kids Living

The Hot Coil Challenge is Sweeping Our Teens’ Newsfeeds—But Are Parents To Blame?

Written by Jessica McCaslin

The newest fad going viral amongst teens is “perhaps the most dangerous one to this point.” I can’t even tell you how often I’ve seen words similar to that headlining my newsfeed. 

So here’s my question to the teens: why? What are you getting out of this? I mean, come on, seriously, is it just for likes and comments? Are you so desperate for social approval that you would injure yourself, make yourself sick, or threaten your life.

Apparently, the answer is yes.

We thought the Tide Pod challenge was as stupid a quest as we would see, but then someone said “Hold my beer” and decided to brand themselves an idiot.

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Literally.

The point of the newest fad, dubbed the hot coil challenge, is to hold the bare skin of your arm on the hot coils of a stove for as long as possible. Then you post the proof to social media.

The fact that this is very dangerous and can cause permanent damage to your arm seems to escape the minds of these teens as they seek to further the definition of “that was dumb.” Then again, most of them are saying “that was cool.”

Burns are a serious matter. I hate the pain associated with a sunburn—and that’s only a first-degree burn! Second-degree burns can ooze, possibly cause loss of skin, and are very painful. Third-degree burns leave skin charred black, and often don’t have pain because the nerves are all dead (unless surrounded by first- or second-degree burns). Several social media sites are removing and banning the harmful videos.

Hope is not lost on this generation. While it seems Darwin may be eliminating a few non-fit specimens, the truth is there are far more teens out there who are smarter than the videos would want you to believe. Several are posting videos mocking the stupidity of the challenges, and urging others to refuse to participate.

I still find myself asking one thing: what are we, as parents to this generation, suppose to do? I would hope my young children would not choose to engage in these behaviors, but why are there those who will? Do they feel neglected? Are they crying out for attention? Is social media so important that getting likes and comments from friends and strangers is more important than their own safety? Do they crave the popularity? Do they have so many traumas that they crave the pain and danger?

Are we, as parents, failing our kids?

I know parenting is hard enough without all those thoughts. However, I challenge you to look at how you interact with the younger generation. Do you make comments about their stupidity? Do you mock their desire to be social via the internet? Do you call them “entitled,” “lazy,” or “selfish”? I mean, look how many times I used the words “stupid” or “idiot” in this article alone. What are we telling our children?

We’re telling them this: adults have little faith in you.

And if you tell someone something often enough, he’s going to start believing it.

I don’t think we can see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to these stunts. The people participating in these stunts want to one-up each other, and the main focus appears to be how far they can go to harm themselves. However, we as adults can extend our concern to our children and their friends. We can talk with them about what is happening in their lives. Some may have reasons they want to harm themselves, and these challenges are simply an opportunity to do that.

Don’t support these challenges by watching the videos or encouraging the negative comments. Instead, focus on the teens who are trying to make a positive difference in their world. Share their stories. Flood social media with positive challenges that will improve the lives of others.

About the author

Jessica McCaslin

Jessica is a Stay-At-Home-Master-Mom who is learning to cope with the daily challenges of being a full-time parent. She graduated with her Master’s degree in community counseling from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2005.

Jessica joined Family Resources of Greater Nebraska in January 2012. She worked with children, adolescents, adults and families in and around Broken Bow, NE. Her attention has now turned to raising her children while doing online work for Family Resources of Greater Nebraska. She loves horses and has attended several Level 1 Equine-Assisted Growth and Learning trainings, where horses are used as a co-therapist for mental health issues. It’s a dream to someday be able to incorporate horses into her therapy sessions. She resides near North Platte with her husband and children.