What Parents Need to Know about the Hot Water Challenge


Water bubbles and boils on a gas stove or range in a home kitchen. Blue flame and stainless steel pot.Credit: RyersonClark/Getty

Just this week, an 11-year-old girl from the Bronx was severely burned when her 12-year-old friend poured scalding hot water on her during a sleepover. The victim suffered second-degree burns to to her face chest, back and shoulders and remains hospitalized. The “friend” was arrested.

Hundreds of You Tube videos feature both kids and adults dousing their friends and themselves in boiling water and the most extreme videos have hundreds of thousands of views. We know that kids are especially susceptible to peer pressure and FOMO (fear of missing out) with the advent of social media, they don’t have hundreds of peers, they potentially have millions that can impact their thoughts and actions within minutes. Though some online challenges like the “Mannequin Challenge” are harmless, others are downright dangerous, and they’re becoming increasingly common, especially as kids post these videos on social media and get a round of applause in the form of “likes” from their friends. If you’ve got kids in your life, here’s some things you can do to minimize their risk:

  1. Talk with them about the dangers associated with The Hot Water Challenge and viral challenges in general.

  2. Check their YouTube settings to make sure that content inappropriate for kids is filtered.

  3. When kids are viewing videos, an adult should be in the room, or at least occasionally glancing over their shoulder.

  4. It’s a good idea to both monitor (using tracking apps and shared log-ins) and limit the use of social media.

  5. Stay on top of online trends, viral videos and social media happenings

  6. Address issues head-on when they arise with your kids, but work to keep the lines of communication open.