The “Tide Pod Challenge” is the Newest Social Media “Game,” and It’s a Dangerous Craze

If you’ve spent more than a minute on social media, then you know that sharing videos of the latest challenge is a user favorite. These challenges range from hilarious and (probably) harmless ones, like Jimmy Kimmel’s “I ate your halloween candy” challenge , to ones for a good cause, like the ice bucket challenge, to the ones that make us go “really?”, like the cinnamon challenge.

Then there are those that are downright dangerous, like the salt and ice challenge. One of the latest crazes making the social media rounds beats even that one in the “I can’t believe they’d actually do that” department. We’ve all seen the commercials telling us that laundry detergent pods aren’t meant to be eaten, and if you use these products, you’ll see the big warning labels right on the packages.

But kids everywhere are challenging each other to eat them anyway, and post their reactions online. This “Tide Pod Challenge” certainly results in some striking videos of kids gagging at the taste, spitting the foamy mess out, or biting the bullet and swallowing it all down.

The reactions are what this challenge is all about. The more outrageous, the more they seem to egg others on. Who can come up with the most outrageous way of eating a Tide Pod? Put it on a pizza? How about a Tide Pod burger? Who can convince the most friends to try a pod?

Eating a Tide Pod is dangerous, however, even if the videos seem harmless. The real dangers aren’t captured in the viral videos: the chemicals in the laundry detergent can cause burns on your mouth, lips or esophagus, as well vomiting and other problems. There are more serious issues, too. Eating the dissolvable membrane that holds the pods together can damage the central nervous system, leading to fatigue, breathing trouble, and even cardiac arrest or coma.

Proctor and Gamble, the company that manufactures Tide Pods, is pretty clear about the potential dangers of the product. They’ve made steps to prevent mishandling of the pods, from including warning labels to putting the detergent in special packages designed to keep kids out. The Tide website even includes a video with football player Rob Gronkowski (a.k.a. “Gronk”) telling viewers, clear as day, not to eat the pods.

But how do you stop kids that are old enough to read the warning labels and work the safety packages from eating the pods anyway? The hype and fun of posting and reposting videos are probably what keep this challenge going. We’re guessing the oh-so-lovely taste of whatever green and blue goo is in those pods has nothing to do with it. If kids want a challenge, maybe they could try swallowing a spoonful of plain white vinegar, which is a great DIY detergent. Hey, it won’t taste good, either, but at least it’s not poisonous.

How about you? Can you believe this latest challenge? Do you think Tide should do anything more to help stop it? What can kids or parents do on social media to keep everyone safe?

To watch this internet fad in action, check out the video below — however, we do have to warn viewers that the content is a bit disturbing.