peer pressure and internet dares

As a parent, you know raising a child comes with many “challenges.”  Your children also face multiple challenges on a daily basis.  Bullying, clique groups, peer pressure, dating, and drugs and alcohol are major topics of concern for children and their parents.

Today, kids and parents are facing a new challenge: Internet dares that could have significant health risks.

What Is a Challenge?

Challenges are the latest form of peer pressure. And I’m not talking about the ice bucket challenge. These challenges are internet dares that could cause serious harm to your child and in some cases even death. Some of the most recent include:

  • The Cinnamon Challenge – With this, kids hold powdered cinnamon in their mouths for as long as they can. In some cases, people have accidentally inhaled the cinnamon, causing lung damage.
  • The Kylie Jenner Challenge – In this challenge, teens try to see how large they can swell their lips by putting a glass over their mouth and sucking out the air creating a vacuum. This can cause soreness, bruises, and even torn skin.
  • The Salt and Ice Challenge – Here, teens pour salt on their bodies, usually on the arm, and ice is then placed on the salt causing a burning sensation similar to frostbite. This can quickly cause second and third-degree injuries.
  • The Deodorant Challenge – This involves holding a can of aerosol deodorant close to the skin and spraying for a prolonged period. The aerosol spray causes the skin to cool very quickly and can result in first-to-second-degree burns.
  • The Kiki Challenge – This involves jumping out of a moving car to dance alongside the car as it is moving.

New challenges pop up every day. But whatever the challenge, it is important to teach your child how to say “no” to the latest internet dare.

Your best defense as a parent is to be open and honest with your child. Talk to them about the dangers of these challenges and give them the tools they need to say “no” to this new form of peer pressure. Children and teens want acceptance and accomplishing a dare, no matter how ridiculous, is a way to do that. You want to prepare your child for these types of peer pressure before they have to deal with it and you want them to feel comfortable coming to you with their concerns.

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20 Tips to Say “NO” to Peer Pressure

With some of the most common “internet dares” now familiar, here are some tips to help your child resist peer pressure.

1.  Answer to peer pressure with questions. Sounds confusing right? Here’s how it works! If your friend asks you to smoke, ask them why they smoke, how long have they smoked, and why they like smelling like cigarettes.

2.  Say “NO” and mean it. Stand up to the peer pressure by saying “NO.” Make eye contact and say it forcefully and with authority. The more certain you are in your response, the less likely that people will continue to pressure you.

3.  Respond with positivity. If someone is pressuring you to smoke, say something like, “I like my lungs the way they are, thanks!”

4.  Be repetitive. Do not be afraid to say “no” more than once. State your position repeatedly if need be.

5.  Practice saying “no.” Practice saying “no” with your parents or older siblings. Practicing in safe environments will help you feel more confident when it actually happens.

6.  Walk away. If someone is peer pressuring you to do something you do not want to, walk away.

7.  Avoid harmful situations. If you know drugs or alcohol are ing to be at a party, make other plans. If you know there are dangers you can avoid, avoid them.

8.  Have a buddy system. Find friends that share your values and back each other up.

9.  Confront the ringleader. The best way to handle peer pressure is to find the person who is pressuring you aside from the group and express your feelings one on one. If they do not have an audience, they are less likely to show off.

10.  Find positive influences. Did you ever notice that there are plenty of popular and successful teens that are not afraid to say “no” and speak their mind? Follow their lead.

11.  Not everyone is doing it. Do not buy the old saying, “everyone is doing it.” They are not.

12.  Find a support system. If you are experiencing peer pressure or bullying, find friends or teachers to talk to about it at school and confide in your parents at home. There are plenty of people who care about you and are willing to help. Find other activities and programs to get involved with that will keep you around the right people.

13.  Be your own best friend. You have to be your own advocate. Stand up for yourself and remind yourself daily of your worth.

14.  Do your best. Find ways to always do your best. Focus your attention on your own personal als rather than what everyone else is doing.

15.  Don’t pressure others. Peer pressure is uncomfortable and it is sometimes hard to say “no.” Don’t put that pressure on others.

16.  Speak up. Fight peer pressure by standing up for the underdog. Supporting others who can’t support themselves lets others know that you aren’t afraid to speak your mind and stand up for what is right.

17.  Be mindful of your mood. If you are having a bad day, you may be more tempted to say “yes” to peer pressure. Avoid these situations when possible.

18.  Evaluate your friendships. If you have a friend who continues to pressure you to do things you do not want to, it’s okay to ditch the friendship. Eliminating toxic relationships only improves your health and well-being.

19.  Find new friends. If you notice that your current friend group does not share your same values and goals, it’s okay to make new friends.

20.  Consider the outcome if you give in. If you say “yes” to using drugs, how could this affect the rest of your life? Remember that one bad choice can lead to a lifetime of bad decisions. Weigh the consequences of saying “yes” to peer pressure.

Equipping your children with these methods of denying peer pressure will help them navigate the world and stay safe from potentially dangerous situations like internet dares.

As a parent, it is important to know your child and their behavior. If you see signs of depression, bullying, or if your child has been more reclusive, it is important to talk to their pediatrician. Talking to your kids about peer pressure can help them feel more confident about their decisions and reduce the possibility they will fall into a situation where these issues might come up.

About UPMC Harrisburg

UPMC Harrisburg is a nationally recognized leader in providing high-quality, patient-centered health care services in south central PA. and surrounding rural communities. UPMC Harrisburg includes seven acute care hospitals and over 160 outpatient clinics and ancillary facilities serving Dauphin, Cumberland, Perry, York, Lancaster, Lebanon, Juniata, Franklin, Adams, and parts of Snyder counties. These locations care for more than 1.2 million area residents yearly, providing life-saving emergency care, essential primary care, and leading-edge diagnostic services. Its cardiovascular program is nationally recognized for its innovation and quality. It also leads the region with its cancer, neurology, transplant, obstetrics-gynecology, maternity care, and orthopaedic programs.

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