It seems like we go through one of these ridiculous challenges once every few months. First our kids were eating Tide Pods, then they were snorting condoms. But the latest internet challenge has teens chewing on egg shells, fruit peels and even plastic packaging in the Shell On Challenge.
The newest food-based internet dare is becoming increasingly popular among kids and teens on Snapchat.
To participate, users are challenging each other to eat an array of foods with their shells on. Some challenges have seen users biting into an unpeeled banana, or eggs with their shell intact.
But the most alarming, and dangerous culprits of the challenge have to be “shells” that are not edible—like plastic and cardboard product packaging.
“Eating food with packaging still on could be dangerous for a number of reasons,” says Dr. Andrew Bernstein, a pediatrician at North Suburban Pediatrics in Evanston, Illinois and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“Packaging is meant partly to keep food germ-free and safe from the surrounding environment. If packaging is eaten, there may be dangerous bacteria or chemicals on the outside packaging that could be toxic or could otherwise make someone sick. Additionally, packaging is not designed to be digested and could cause damage or obstruction to internal organs.”
Not to mention, many manmade materials could be carcinogenic.
In addition to ingesting packaging, doctors warn teens of the dangerous side effects of consuming food parts that are not safe for eating.
According to WebMD, when people eat items like unwashed fruit peels or egg shells, there’s a chance that they could be taking in bacterial organisms. Salmonella contamination of eggs, and pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables could pose a risk to the user involved.
Though the challenge has parents and pediatricians everywhere warning of several hazards associated with the social media trend, several others are making the most of it.
Hostess Snacks even joked about the challenge in a tweet last week saying, “do you eat yours with or without the peel?”
— Hostess Snacks (@Hostess_Snacks) April 16, 2019
Despite the physical risks associated with the shell on challenge, doctors warn against the several negative mental health issues it can cause for kids and teens as it’s related to cyber peer pressure—a relatively new element to deal with in the digital age.
As a result, pediatricians are urging parents to use this challenge as a starting point for talking to your kids about social media pressure, cyber bullying, and how to have good digital citizenship.