Overview: The Milk Crate Challenge consists of building a pyramid of milk crates and walking up one side and down the other as if they were a set of steps. When the pyramid collapses, as it often does, people may receive injuries, possibly even life-altering ones. Viral internet challenges like this one may also place more strain on medical systems already struggling with COVID-19 cases.
How Dangerous Is The Milk Crate Challenge?
There aren’t yet any hard statistics about how many people have tried the Milk Crate Challenge, or how many have been injured seriously enough to require a hospital visit. There have been reports, though, of injuries ranging from the merely painful to the serious.
Injuries Are One Thing …
The issue is that when the pyramid collapses, usually the person on it falls hard, landing either on a milk crate or on the ground.
Dr. Shawn Anthony, an orthopedic surgeon who practices in New York, told the Washington Post that the challenge is similar to falling off a ladder or a high-speed skiing or cycling accident. It’s a situation where it’s very difficult to brace yourself or fall the “correct” way to minimize injury.
Similarly, the settings can aggravate the problem, with people attempting the challenges on concrete pads, rocky soil, and other difficult surfaces. This can make the pyramid less stable, and this type of surface will also be less forgiving when the pyramid collapses.
… and COVID Is Another
Aside from the potential for injury, an equally grave concern (because of the viral nature of the challenge) is a strain on the medical system. As of this writing, the U.S. (along with most of the world) is in the middle of a surge in COVID-19 cases, with several states facing capacity ICUs and delaying elective surgeries. In addition to the strain on resources, this situation could also cause serious injuries to be aggravated as people who failed the challenge wait for a bed.
This is part of the reason TikTok banned the challenge by blocking any searches or hashtags. Unfortunately, other social media sites, as of this writing, have yet to do the same.
Here are some ways that parents can help their kids make smart decisions regarding the Milk Crate Challenge and other social media challenges they will undoubtedly encounter online.
Talk To Your Kids About Social Media Challenges
The best thing to do in this situation is to talk to your kids clearly and honestly about it.
Lay out the concerns and problems in a clear and cogent way. Have them look up fall injuries and why they’re dangerous. Discuss the risks of going to the hospital right now, and the longer-term risks of an injury that may change the course of their life.
Re-Channel Their Interest
Ask why they’re interested in physical challenges. If, for example, they’re intrigued by the idea of doing something acrobatic or challenging, there are ways to experience that in a safer environment with coaches and experts. A visit to a circus arts school to learn balance stunts or a gymnastics facility to learn tumbling will give them the same physical challenge with less risk and more adult supervision.
If they’re just looking for laughs, help them find a safer way to get them.
Educate Your Kids About Social Media Stunts
It may also be worth looking “behind the curtain” on YouTube to learn how seemingly dangerous stunts are done safely. While it’s anecdotal, it appears the people who successfully complete internet challenges tend to be yoga experts, acrobats, dancers, and others with both a strong sense of balance and more importantly, experience in handling these situations in a performance environment.
The best way to deal with people attempting risky stunts for attention is to highlight the “dumb” and “dangerous” parts. Once kids understand those, they’re more likely to make smart choices.
Use Parental Control Software
If you need help managing what your kids are engaging with on the internet, parental control software like Screen Time can help.
At Screen Time, our goal is to help families ensure that their kids stay safe online while finding the digital sweet spot — the right balance of screen time and time spent doing other healthy activities. We offer parental control software to help families find that balance safely because we know that busy parents can often use a helping hand.
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