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The Cinnamon Challenge and Other Dumb Games Kids Play

Whether they’re looking for a thrill to enliven a dull day or hoping to impress peers with their bravado, kids and teens have a way of devising and participating in games so dumb and reckless that parents cringe to hear about them. With the advent of the Internet, these dares and dangerous games have gone viral. The latest fad, “the cinnamon challenge,” seems relatively simple on the surface. Participants are charged with the mission of swallowing a single spoonful of dried, ground cinnamon. The results are rarely successful, often disgusting and never graceful. The New York Times reports that participating in the cinnamon challenge can result in a trip to the emergency room, and the game is responsible for a number of calls to poison control centers. Along with the cinnamon challenge, these are a few of the other dumb games kids are known to play when there’s a lack of adult supervision.

The Salt and Ice Challenge

Another stupid stunt gone viral, countless online videos depict kids and teens trying to see who can withstand the pain of pouring salt onto their skin, and then placing an ice cube over it. The addition of ice to common table salt lowers the mixture’s temperature below that of freezing water, causing burns similar to those sustained by sufferers from frostbite. The ice can even numb the skin, causing kids to be unaware of just how severe the injury is. It’s not uncommon for participants to sustain second or third degree burns.

The Choking Game

By no means a new feat, the choking game is an old stunt that seems to be passed down with each generation. It’s also one of the most dangerous of kids’ common stupid games, as it can end in the death of a participant. A study conducted by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the average age of kids that died from playing the choking game was 13, and that 87% of those that died were young boys. The vast majority of parents that lost a child, 93%, reported that they weren’t even aware of the choking game until after their child died as a result of playing.


Most kids know that trying an illicit drug is just asking for trouble, but feel that it’s okay to huff things commonly found around the house to alter their perceptions. Because these substances are easily obtained and aren’t illegal to possess, it’s easy for kids to believe that they’re also not dangerous. They’re not intended for concentrated breathing, however, and can cause brain damage or even death. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health cites household chemicals as the fourth most commonly abused substances among middle and high school students in the United States.

Mumblety Peg

While some of the dumb and dangerous games kids play are inspired by viral videos of their peers around the world attempting some harebrained feat, this one is an old hat that’s been depicted in scores of Hollywood hits. Kids are instructed to spread their fingers and place them on a flat surface, stabbing the space between them with a knife. The object is to steadily increase the speed without impaling any phalanges, which requires far more skill and coordination than most kids have. Injuries sustained from a game of mumblety peg are generally not life threatening, but can be very painful and do run the risk of becoming infected.

Thirty Seconds Game

Lots of legitimate games require a certain action to be completed within a specified period of time, but few are as painful or as dumb as the thirty seconds game, in which kids fight an opponent with all of their strength for half a minute. Onlookers declare a winner based upon the injuries sustained and strikes landed.

The ABC Game

Anything that gets kids to think about the language arts is a good thing, right? Word games are generally an accepted form of entertainment, and one that makes parents proud of their genius progeny. The ABC game, however, takes being smart to an entirely new level of stupid. One participant scratches the shape of a letter into the back of another’s hand while she tries to recite a specified number of objects that begin with that letter, continuing until the competitor either completes the entire alphabet or gives up in agony. The repetitive and abrasive action can leave kids with infected wounds.

Discussing these games with your kids is a good idea, but can also give them ideas that they may not have stumbled on without your inadvertent direction. Try to encourage reasonable, rational behavior and discuss the general subject of dangerous games in a way that shows your disapproval without giving them the specifics they need to carry out these stunts.

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