It seems like every year a brand-new internet challenge makes its rounds, and in recent years, many of these challenges have resulted in kids getting harmed. And while the days of the Tide Pod Challenge are hopefully behind us, the "Shell On Challenge" is picking up speed, and it's a serious problem. So what exactly does it entail? Put simply, it involves eating the packaging that food comes in — whether it be a banana peel, an egg shell, or a plastic wrapper — and filming it on Snapchat.
The Arizona Republic originally reported that the trend was taking off, and as you can imagine, it's super dangerous. Liam Hamm, a sophomore at McClintock High School in Tempe, AZ, said that the challenge is meant to be funny after taking a bite out of a bag of plastic carrots. "It just looks funny, because it's not really a shell but people are calling things shells. I guess that is what's funny about it."
Dr. Hansa Bhargava — a pediatrician and senior medical director for WebMD — doesn't see the humor in the challenge, noting that while it's less harmful than others, eating nonfood items certainly comes with risks. "For example, salmonella contamination of eggs could pose a hazard," she explained. "Also, there may be pesticide residue that could be ingested, but usually small amounts shouldn't impact a person."
Obviously, ingesting plastic wrappers is the bigger concern because "wrappings may contain substances that could be carcinogenic," said Dr. Bhargava, adding that bites of plastic could also be a potential choking hazard.
Concerned parents should talk to their children about the dangers of peer pressure and encourage them not to cave into the latest trend. "This is a great opportunity to talk to the kids about challenges, social media pressure, and even cyberbullying," advised Dr. Bhargava. "Kids can be taught on being thoughtful about what they are pressured to do, as well as good digital citizenship."