Tide pods picture

Teens: If You Eat Tide Pods, Things Won’t End Well

Because eating detergent is never a good idea

Teens are eating Tide Pods.

And while this may sound like the beginning of a comedy skit, an entry into the Darwin awards or not something in the grasp of most parents’ imaginations, it’s a thing.

The latest teen trend that requires willing participants to swallow whole Tide detergent pods is one that is making both parents and teens alike recoil – though, granted, for different reasons.

What’s wrong with kids today, us older folks ask ourselves? Where did we go wrong? Or, as it were, did we miss the boat on having fun by not indulging in such stupidity that we’re seeing today, sparing ourselves from not only physical illness (and potentially death), but ridicule as well?

Because, let’s face it: eating laundry detergent is just downright dumb, and anyone who says otherwise needs to reexamine their thoughts on the matter.

Those of us of a certain vintage will continually say “thank God that there was no Internet, social media or Snapchat when I was a teen! Who knows what idiocy would have been recorded for posterity?”

For social media, let’s face it, is the driver behind many of the ridiculous “challenges” that teens find themselves caught up in, often.

Remember the Kylie Jenner challenge? How about the Duct Tape Challenge ? And let’s not forget the good old Choking Game.

And while we bemoan the fact that teens and tweens seem to be more bold, more prone to risk-taking and more…well…insane, perhaps we should circle back to the larger issue and main factor behind this and other such ridiculous trends: social media.

As I mentioned previously, kids’ and teens’ idea of “fun” pre-Internet age, involved many pursuits, but did not include the ingestion of toxic and potentially deadly materials. One has to wonder how, when and why the bar was raised to the point where, in 2018, eating poison – willingly, no less – is seen to be a fun thing to do on a Saturday night.

Could it be, perhaps, that the spectre of “going viral,” of sharing one’s latest zany activity, is not only the thing to do amongst the teen set, but is encouraged and rewarded by this group and their supporters as well? Regardless of the end results, teens often seem to be determined to master the challenge du jour, in spite of the very real – and sometimes fatal –  consequences.

And how many of us can compete with the reality that your teens’ favourite Youtube star has earned more this year than you may ever earn in a lifetime?

Kids these days.

So starved are they for kicks and so willing are they to do anything for a thrill that risking their health and, in some cases, their lives, is all part of the game when one is bored and looking for fun.

In this day an age where it’s a thrill a second and boredom is easily achieved (particularly if you’re a teen), it’s probably not surprising that the younger set has upped the ante in terms of how they get their jollies. After all, their friends are watching – literally. With the pressure to outdo their peers, raise their “street cred” and showcase to the world just how amazing they are, teens are putting their lives at risk. “Having fun” is so very different for today’s teenager than it was not even 20 years ago.

As parents, educators and the general public, what can we do to dissuade the foolish choices made by the younger set who, in many cases, are bored with daily life and who look to social media for the next cool trend that can be Instagrammed and Snapchatted to the world?

I don’t have all of the answers, but here are some suggestions:

  1. Show Real Consequences – What will happen to you if you eat poison? Perhaps a trip to a poison control centre, a hospital or medical facility where those who are fighting to recover from being poisoned reveal that there’s nothing sexy or cool about being exposed to toxins.
  2. Discourage Social Sharing “One-Upmanship” – “Just because your friend does it doesn’t mean you have to do it too.” Remember how we used to utter these wise words to our kids? Maybe they’re not too old to get some good old-fashioned reminders about the dangers of following the crowd and the very real consequences of putting things in our mouths that don’t belong there
  3. Re-Evaluate and Monitor Social Media Use – Who are your teens following/idolizing/emulating on social media? Who are their heroes? Who do they aspire to be like? Answers to all of these questions will provide information for parents who want to know about “the next big thing” before it becomes the next big thing.
  4. What’s Cool? What’s Trending? – Hashtags can tell parents a lot about where things are going in the teen world. Ditto for the latest memes on your teen’s favourite social media channel. Keep an eye out for what’s being said and stay ahead of the game.


About Samantha Kemp-Jackson

Sam is the mother of four, and has the dubious distinction of having raised kids in four different decades: the 80's, 90's, '00's and 10s. She talks about her unique perspective on parenting on her podcast, "Parenting Then and Now." She's also an opinionated media commentator and you can find her speaking about all kinds of things if you put her name into The Google.