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6 Dangerous Things Teens Are Doing Behind Everybody’s Back

Older kids are finding some frightening ways to push boundaries.

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An illustration of four teens, all engaging in dangerous teen trends, like vaping or eating tide pods.
Kelsey Wroten
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Think you know what your teen is doing when nobody's looking? We're hoping you do. But in case you want to know more about some dangerous trends taking hold, here are six of them.


Kelsey Wroten

Tide Pod Challenge
This has got to be one of the stupidest things ever — but with an underdeveloped frontal cortex, this is what we get: dangerous and bizarre challenges/dares posted on social media. There was the cinnamon challenge, the salt challenge and now this. The point is to film yourself biting into, or eating, a Tide laundry detergent pod. Dear Lord.

According to "The Washington Post," children who have been exposed to the capsules have been hospitalized with vomiting, breathing troubles and loss of consciousness. And, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, eight fatalities have been reported among children 5 and younger since 2012. No doubt the detergent pods pose similar risks for older kids.

Lean/Sizzurp/Dirty Sprite
This cough-syrup/codeine/candy concoction isn’t new. Celebrities like Justin Bieber and Lil Wayne have been guzzling the cocktail with scary results. The drink is a mixture of soda, prescription-strength cough syrup with codeine, and Jolly Ranchers. The dangerous combination creates a powerful high. Because alcohol and prescription-strength cough medicine are hard to procure, teens are using NyQuil instead.

Kelsey Wroten


Whether it’s an e-cigarette, a Juul or any one of the devices used to deliver liquid nicotine, this is a growing problem in middle and high schools. The misguided belief is that it’s not harmful because you’re inhaling steam. Sure, there’s no tobacco, but there’s nicotine and a host of other dangerous chemicals — and none of them are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Ingredients can also include formaldehyde and propylene glycol (also in antifreeze). Even worse, some teens are “dabbing” — dropping concentrated THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) oil or wax into the liquid cartridge to get high.

Nudes are selfies’ promiscuous older cousin. The New York Times reported on a recent study ( that found that of 500 social media accounts belonging to girls 12 to 18 years old, two-thirds of them had been asked for a naked or promiscuous photo. With so many celebrities posing provocatively, it normalizes the behavior — and younger girls have a harder time understanding the long-term social (and legal!) consequences of such behavior.


Kelsey Wroten


The free app was created as a way for employees to give and get anonymous performance feedback. “Sarahah” is the Arabic word for honesty. Not sure what the Arabic word is for bullied teens, but here we are. Kids are downloading the app and linking it to their Snapchat accounts. Once they post a photo or video, anyone can comment anonymously on what they see. Why do kids download it, you ask? Because 98 percent of the stuff kids say about each other is supportive and kind. It’s the 2 percent of evil trash-talking that’s trampling egos.

Private Searching
If you don’t know what this is, you have some catching up to do. That’s not to be unkind, but if you want to understand the digital world your teen is contending with, you have to keep up. When they’re on Google or Safari searching the internet (for porn or anything else they’re too embarrassed to ask about), there’s an option under File to open an “incognito” or “private searching” window that renders all searching history invisible.

In the end, don't be lulled into a false sense of security, parents, just because you've checked your child's Internet history and all appears to be innocent. Set aside one-on-one time with your teen and keep the lines of communication open. Your kid can sense when you're not taking him or her seriously so it pays to really listen.