Keeping Your Children Safe from Internet Challenges and Toxic Substances

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New Directions for Women prides itself on being one of the few drug and alcohol rehabs in Orange County that specializes in caring for pregnant women and mothers, because we believe recovery is a communal process that needs to be shared with the family. We feel that separating a mother from her children is an undue strain on a family and hinders the healing process, but drug and alcohol rehab for women that involves the children certainly comes with its own challenges. There’s been a terrifying new trend, dubbed the “Tide Pod Challenge,” which highlights, yet again, the importance of positive social influences and the dangers of negative social pressures. Because the challenge has hurt so many families, we felt it should be addressed immediately.

If you, your child, or another loved one have consumed a tide pod or other detergent, call 9-1-1 immediately. It is urgent that you note the brand and type of detergent consumed, as it can drastically alter the course of care.

The Tide Pod Challenge is an internet meme that pokes humor at the bright colors and gelatin consistency of Tide detergent cleaning packets, comparing the appearance to gummy candy. Many children and teenagers took up the challenge to taste the pods, cooking them or putting them directly into their mouth and recording themselves chewing on it for social sharing sites. In the first two weeks of 2018, 39 cases had been reported of children becoming seriously sick from consuming the pods. Between 2012 and 2017, there were eight recorded fatalities from the ingestion of detergent pods. Because the liquid is so concentrated, the effects are immediate, within seconds of consumption, and can leave severe scarring in the trachea and lungs. Some of the worst cases include death or permanent damage to the respiratory and digestive systems, so it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

The trend is all too familiar among sociologists and drug treatment specialists. Young and attention-craving youths looking for fame, exposure, or simply to entertain their friends will often participate in activities that would be ludicrous or dangerous. We have a deep social need to conform with our peers, especially when we’re young—so it comes as no surprise that such horrible dares spread from child to child, school to school. Whether or not our friends “are watching” is one of the most direct influencers of our behavior as teenagers, and it’s been proven to encourage reckless driving, drug use, and many other dangerous behaviors. The immediate gratification of social media, and the harmless appearance of the detergent pods create a deceptively dangerous environment for young children.

Peer pressure is still one of the most commonly cited reasons for early drug and alcohol use, and it’s a major factor to other horrible decisions, such as the tide pod example. Peer pressure is never going away. Friends and classmates will always tease kids, make jokes, challenges, or dares. It’s important to teach our kids to be able to resist the temptations and to always think of their health first. This is exponentially more difficult in an online-driven era, where kids are socializing less in person and spending more time and effort looking for instant gratification online.

The combination of guaranteed social views of online challenges and an ever-growing disconnect between real life social circles leaves our children more vulnerable than ever to harmful behaviors and developing negative habits. As such it’s essential to talk to your kids about the dangers of these challenges. Even if they don’t participate, talking to them might help them discourage others, and act as a filter to the spread of these harmful challenges.

At New Directions, we teach our families in recovery to put down the electronics, avoid late-night computer usage, and to learn to live a life free from all addictions, chemical, social, and electronic. We encourage in-person, community-driven events, like home-cooked meals with friends, and teach our women to live a life that well help keep themselves, and their children, healthy and safe for life.

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