+

As the parent of two teens, a recent headline caught my eye: “The condom snorting challenge is every parents worst nightmare.”

Oh, good gracious, I thought. What fresh nonsense are teens into now?

I perused the article (justoneof many), which details a “viral craze” on social media in which teens share videos of themselves sucking an unwrapped condom up through their nose and pulling it out of their mouth.


Yes, it’s absurd. Yes, it’s dangerous.

But no, it’s not the big new thing teens are doing across the country.

According to Snopes, most of the videos being shown in media reports on the “craze” are from years ago, when snorting condoms was kind of a fad — one that never really became widespread and petered out pretty quickly.

This video from ThinkTank discussed the challenge in 2013:

So apparently, my “worst nightmare” as a parent was sort of a thing for a little while a bunch of years ago and has now somehow gained new life through the media. Mmkay.

News outlets and social media like to run look at this ridiculous teen craze” stories, but such stories don’t accurately represent the majority of teenagers.

Earlier this year, the Tide Pod Challenge was all over the news. The story was that teens were taking to social media with videos of themselves holding a Tide detergent pod in their mouths. Cue the gagging, puking, poisoning — and in some cases — hospitalization. Yay, evolution!

Stories of the challenge circulated widely, prompting Tide to release a plea not to eat their detergent pods and Youtube and Facebook to ban videos of people engaging in the challenge.

The stories also resulted in The People of the Internet making Tide Pod jokes on every story about young people and dismissing anything teens said about anything.

Sigh.

Yes, some teens really were eating Tide Pods. Yes, it’s reckless and dangerous.

But no, the vast majority of teens weren’t — and aren’t — that foolish.

When you do the math, it’s clear that these so-called fads are usually just a small number of kids amplified on the internet.

According to the Association for Poison Control, there were 86 incidents of intentional ingestion of laundry detergent pods by teens in the first three weeks of 2018. That’s a sharp increase from the year before, but still hardly an epidemic.

Let’s do some quick math.

GIF from “Millennial Home Buyer/CBC Comedy.

There are more than 42 million adolescents in the United States. If 86 out of 42 million purposely “ate” a Tide pod, that means approximately 0.0002% of American adolescents did it. Even if 10 times that many actually tried it and didn’t get poisoned enough to make the official list, that would still only be 0.002% — that’s two thousandths of a percent.

While ingesting laundry detergent is clearly a bad idea, this does not appear to me to be a universal habit among teens — or even a moderately common one.

The contrast in the way teens are portrayed in the news in 2018 is striking.

The teens who’ve experienced gun violence and are channeling their energies into civic action have gotten a lot of press. And they should. What they’re doing is impressive, even if you disagree with their message. They’ve organized thousands, galvanized a movement, and effected real legislative change.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Those teens do not appear to be eating Tide pods and snorting condoms through their noses in their free time.

And those young people bear a much closer resemblance to most of the teenagers I know and have known than the handful of teens I’ve seen in these “viral” challenge videos.

I think teens are awesome. The ones I know are smart and principled. They know how to have fun and be silly without being dangerous or foolish. They care deeply about societal issues and are motivated to make the world a better place.

The teens in my life aren’t perfect, but they’re also not ingesting soap or pulling contraceptives through their nasal cavities.

[rebelmouse-image 19476182 dam="1" original_size="427x640" caption="Photo by Michael Paul/Flickr." expand=1]Photo by Michael Paul/Flickr.

Viral crazes make great headlines, but they don’t represent teens overall. And it’s insulting to young people to imply that they do.

My two teens roll their eyes every time one of these “fads” makes the headlines. They don’t know anyone who has done these kinds of challenges.

That’s not to say that no one does them — obviously, someone does or there wouldn’t be a story there. But some people do reckless things all the time in the adult world, too. That doesn’t mean we can ascribe that behavior to most (or even many) adults.

Everyone needs to just calm down a bit. The kids are all right.

In fact, teens are doing pretty great. According to the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, today’s teens smoke less, drink less, get pregnant less (probably because they’re having less sex), get into fights less, and generally make less trouble than my generation did. Yes, they have issues that we didn’t have due to social media, and they sometimes make questionable choices, like all teens have forever, but they’re not a bunch of sheep.

My teens are exceptional in my eyes, but I don’t believe they’re the exception. Let’s keep celebrating young people who are doing amazing things — and let’s stop treating this generation like they don’t know better than to eat laundry soap or shove rubber up their noses.

Because that’s simply not the case for the vast majority of them.

This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


Being married is like being half of a two-headed monster. It's impossible to avoid regular disagreements when you're bound to another person for the rest of your life. Even the perfect marriage (if there was such a thing) would have its daily frustrations. Funnily enough, most fights aren't caused by big decisions but the simple, day-to-day questions, such as "What do you want for dinner?"; "Are we free Friday night?"; and "What movie do you want to see?"

Here are some hilarious tweets that just about every married couple will understand.

Keep ReadingShow less
Democracy

A man told me gun laws would create more 'soft targets.' He summed up the whole problem.

As far as I know, there are only two places in the world where people living their lives are referred to as 'soft targets.'

Photo by Taylor Wilcox on Unsplash

Only in America are kids in classrooms referred to as "soft targets."

On the Fourth of July, a gunman opened fire at a parade in quaint Highland Park, Illinois, killing at least six people, injuring dozens and traumatizing (once again) an entire nation.

My family member who was at the parade was able to flee to safety, but the trauma of what she experienced will linger. For the toddler with the blood-soaked sock, carried to safety by a stranger after being pulled from under his father's bullet-torn body, life will never be the same.

There's a phrase I keep seeing in debates over gun violence, one that I can't seem to shake from my mind. After the Uvalde school shooting, I shared my thoughts on why arming teachers is a bad idea, and a gentleman responded with this brief comment:

"Way to create more soft targets."

Keep ReadingShow less

Paul Rudd in 2016.

Passing around your yearbook to have it signed by friends, teachers and classmates is a fun rite of passage for kids in junior high and high school. But, according to KDVR, for Brody Ridder, a bullied sixth grader at The Academy of Charter Schools in Westminster, Colorado, it was just another day of putting up with rejection.

Poor Brody was only able to get four signatures in his yearbook, two from what appeared to be teachers and one from himself that said, “Hope you make some more friends."

Brody’s mom, Cassandra Ridder has been devastated by the bullying her son has faced over the past two years. "There [are] kids that have pushed him and called him names," she told The Washington Post. It has to be terrible to have your child be bullied and there is nothing you can do.

She posted about the incident on Facebook.

“My poor son. Doesn’t seem like it’s getting any better. 2 teachers and a total of 2 students wrote in his yearbook,” she posted on Facebook. “Despite Brody asking all kinds of kids to sign it. So Brody took it upon himself to write to himself. My heart is shattered. Teach your kids kindness.”

Keep ReadingShow less