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Health & Parenting

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7 Dangerous Games Parents Must Know About

The Cinnamon Challenge…the Choking Game…are your kids playing these high-risk “games?”

2. Cinnamon Challenge

This unusual challenge has been shown in countless YouTube videos. It involves swallowing a spoonful of powdered cinnamon without taking a drink of water. The spice dries out the inside of your mouth, making it nearly impossible for anyone to succeed.

Most people immediately cough out a huge puff of cinnamon-colored powder. Some people vomit from the strong flavor. Others have coughing fits after breathing in the fine powder. In rare cases, people are hospitalized after inhaling powder into the lungs and need to be placed on ventilators.

But some teens can't wait to try it and upload videos of their own experiences.

"Kids have easy access to items such as cinnamon," Shu says. "Kids often think it's fun and funny to try these games and may not think they're dangerous since the substances are not illegal."

3. Huffing or Dusting

By the time they're in eighth grade, 20% of American children have intentionally inhaled common household products (such as glue or cans of compressed gas used to clean computer keyboards) to get high.

Breathing these chemicals decreases the supply of oxygen to the brain, resulting in a brief, euphoric high. But doing it for too long can lead to serious injury or death.

"It can be very addictive or habit-forming, and it can cause really profound brain damage," Santelli says. "If you pick the wrong substance, it can be harmful or deadly."

4. Car "Surfing"

Michael J. Fox's character danced atop the roof of a moving vehicle while the Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA" blasted from the radio in the 1985 movie Teen Wolf, giving a creative name to this dangerous game. The stunt hasn't lost its appeal among daredevil teens over the decades, even though standing on the roof of a moving car can be deadly.

The CDC recently analyzed 99 cases of injuries and deaths from car surfing that were reported in U.S. newspapers over an 18-year period. The report found that more than 70% of the car surfers were male, and most participants were aged 15 to 19. Deaths were caused by head trauma in most cases, even at speeds as low as 5 miles per hour.

"You don't have to go more than 5 miles an hour [to get hurt]," Sacchetti says. "Standing on a car, your head is at least 10 or 15 feet in the air. You've got the force of the car, and when it stops, it's going to transfer that acceleration to you."

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