‘It goes bad very quickly’: More kids being hospitalized after trying TikTok challenges, doctor says

ORLANDO, Fla. — A pediatric critical care physician said she continues to see young patients being admitted to the hospital after they tried a dangerous stunt or challenge they saw on TikTok.

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“They aren’t realizing in a lot of cases, it goes bad very quickly and those aren’t the ones getting posted,” said Dr. Jenna Wheeler.

Wheeler has treated a handful of patients at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children after stunts they tried for social media.

“There’s things such as car surfing. There’s been a milk crate challenge,” Wheeler said. “There was a Benadryl challenge where kids were taking more and more Benadryl every few minutes to try to get high. I did see that as well for kids for dousing themselves in alcohol and then lighting themselves on fire.”

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She has seen several cases, and says many of these can be life-altering. Many children will need surgery, medication and regular doctor’s visits.

“They do the challenge after they see someone that’s done it that’s gotten 1,000 likes or 20,000 likes, and so for them, they just want to be part of the excitement —something to do, something to be kind of looked at for,” Wheeler said.

With students home from school this summer, Wheeler wants parents to make sure they are paying attention to what their kids are scrolling through.

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She wants parents to have conversations with their kids now to keep them safe.

“Something that sounds innocent or may sound funny can have really significant consequences,” Wheeler said.

There is also a psychological aspect.

Research and studies about the various effects of social media are ongoing.

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Wheeler notes that peer pressure and bullying has ramped up anxiety levels among teens.

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