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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?”

3 More Questionable Party Games

Certain "games" are almost always played in groups so that players can impress their friends.

  • Mumblety Peg, which has been around for generations, is one such game. In one form of this game, a player spreads his fingers on a table then stabs the spaces between them as quickly as possible with a pocket knife.
  • Chubby Bunny, a newer game, requires someone to shove as many full-sized marshmallows into his mouth as possible and then enunciate the words "chubby bunny" to an audience.
  • The ABC Scratching Game requires at least two people. One person must name words that begin with each letter of the alphabet for a given topic while the other person scratches the back of his hand to distract him.

These games aren't usually fatal. But they may require a visit to the doctor or hospital. For instance, a poorly played round of Mumblety Peg could require stitches, and a very raw sore created during the ABC Scratching Game could require medical attention. "I don't know that I'd want to open wounds on my hand with MRSA infections going around," Sacchetti says.

Chubby Bunny may cause choking because marshmallows are difficult to cough out. "This is a choking hazard -- technically suffocation from blocking the whole airway," Shu says.

Talking About It

Keeping lines of communication open with your teen is essential to his or her safety.

"Ask open-ended questions" Shu says, "such as what the kid does at his friend's house after school, which kind of videos they've seen on YouTube, have they ever heard of kids their age getting hurt from trying activities and pranks that seem funny or silly. And talk to your kids' friends. Friends are often more likely to share information with an adult that isn't their own parent."

Experts agree that the best time to warn your children about the dangers of these risky games is as soon as you hear about them, whether you've received an email warning from the local PTA or you've read news reports of a teen that died in a neighboring town.

Find safer, organized activities that still offer a thrill, Santelli says. "There's no magic bullet, but a lot of parents get kids involved in sports," he says. "It's a great way to channel sensation-seeking in a positive way."

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Reviewed on April 02, 2012

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