Fire Challenge: A Life-Threatening Internet Challenge

, you're logged in!
October 15, 2019

Become a member or log in to view this course

Superintendents, Directors and Principals: Request a partnership on this page to unlock our resources for your whole community.

What is the Fire Challenge?

  • The Fire Challenge is the latest dangerous social media fad to become popular with tweens and teens
  • Like many of the social media challenges we’ve seen before, the Fire Challenge encourages students to film themselves performing life threatening activities in order to participate in the trend
  • Tweens and teens who participate in the challenge cover part of their body with a fire accelerant and light it on fire
  • Kids have easy access to accelerants like nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, or hand sanitizer
  • They will have a friend film themselves doing the stunt so they can post is to social media
  • Those participating in the challenge try to extinguish the flames before they incur serious burns
  • Many news reports show the challenge can easily escalate and turn life threatening
  • The challenge has been around for a few years but it is regaining popularity

Why should parents care?

  • This viral teen challenge is incredibly  dangerous and can be life threatening
  • This social media challenge isn’t limited to a certain area, it’s happening all over the country
  • The fire accelerants most commonly used in the challenge are easily accessible to most tweens and teens
  • Tweens and teens don’t understand risk the same way adults do
  • Parents should explain the consequences of dangerous social media trends and help them understand that fads like these come and go

Login or join the VIP membership today to view all resources about the Fire Challenge!

Become a member or log in to view this course

Superintendents, Directors and Principals: Request a partnership on this page to unlock our resources for your whole community.

Quotation marks

This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

StarStarStarStarStar

Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

Quotation marks

Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

StarStarStarStarStar

Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

Quotation marks

This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

StarStarStarStarStar

Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Green Zone.
This app is not safe for students to use unsupervised, but a Green Zone app can serve a positive purpose to help a student to navigate social media and someday build an online brand. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Green Zone.

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Gray Zone.
Gray Zone apps often contain lots of private & disappearing messages, and strangers can use this to chat with students. Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe. This zone can be a great place for family time since many of these apps can be entertaining, and let your students express themselves. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Gray Zone.

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Red Zone.
Red Zone apps often have lots of anonymous features, adult content, and easy contact with strangers. Supervision is strongly suggested on each of these apps or move your kids to a safer zone. All apps require parental supervision, these apps more than others. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Red Zone or view our list of 100+ Apps to find a safer app with your student.
Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ app reviews at SmartSocial.com

This trend is categorized as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge.
Viral challenges encourage students to do dangerous things to garner likes, views, attention, and subscribers. These challenges can be found across several social networks and may encourage students to perform dangerous activities. SmartSocial.com keeps parents updated on these social media challenges before an incident may occur in your community.

Table of Contents

Some kids are lighting themselves on fire or letting their friends light the match-- all in an attempt to get more attention online. The dangerous stunt, called the “Fire Challenge”, has been around for a while, but now new viral videos are showing up online. And new tweens and teens are finding themselves in the hospital after attempting this life-threatening social media challenge.

Parent & educator training video

What is the Fire Challenge?

  • The Fire Challenge is the latest dangerous social media fad to become popular with tweens and teens
  • Like many of the social media challenges we’ve seen before, the Fire Challenge encourages students to film themselves performing life threatening activities in order to participate in the trend
  • Tweens and teens who participate in the challenge cover part of their body with a fire accelerant and light it on fire
  • Kids have easy access to accelerants like nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, or hand sanitizer
  • They will have a friend film themselves doing the stunt so they can post is to social media
  • Those participating in the challenge try to extinguish the flames before they incur serious burns
  • Many news reports show the challenge can easily escalate and turn life threatening
  • The challenge has been around for a few years but it is regaining popularity

Health officials issue warning about the Fire Challenge according to CBS News

KPIX 5 headline: Dangerous 'Fire Challenge" game trends among teens on social media; South Bay Fire officials issue warning

“A 15-year-old boy in Buffalo died of his injuries after reportedly participating in the fire challenge.”

“Another 15-year-old boy in Kentucky who learned of the stunt on Facebook and was badly burned when he tried it”

Source: CBS News

Newsweek reports on the dangers of the Fire Challenge

Newsweek headline: Michigan boy, 12, set on fire by friend for social media challenge-suffers second degree burns

“12-year-old Michigan boy has been seriously burned after a friend set him on fire as part of a social media challenge.”

“[He] was left with second degree burns and spent four days in hospital following the incident.”

Source: Newsweek

The Washington Post interviews mom of child harmed by the Fire Challenge

The Washington Post headline: She 'looked like a fireball': Internet 'fire challenge' leaves 12-year-old Detroit girl severly burned

“[The student] is in intensive care at a children’s hospital with nearly half her body covered in severe burns. It was the outcome of attempting a viral Internet dare known as the ‘fire challenge,’”

“It’s just one of numerous social-media-fed stunts — some harmless, some life-threatening — into which young people have been lured over the past few years.”

Source: The Washington Post

The Fire Challenge in the news:

NFPA and the Phoenix Society have issued official warnings against the phenomenon known as the ‘fire challenge’ trending on social media outlets... Many fire and life safety educators are wondering what actions can be taken to help stop this challenge.  Unfortunately, the answer to the question is complex and there is no single answer.

National Fire Protection Association

Similar attempts by other teens have resulted in emergency room visits all over the country, and authorities are urging parents to pay attention [to the Fire Challenge].

ABC

Of the countless challenges that have captivated teen video enthusiasts, the fire challenge is the most concerning yet given the devastating consequences that can result.

The County of Santa Clara, CA

A teen harmed by the Fire Challenge warns others, according to ABC

ABC News headline: 'Dumb Idea': Teen burned in fire challenge warns others

“Videos on YouTube are revealing a disturbing trend: the so-called fire challenge. Teenagers are setting themselves on fire and posting the video as a social media stunt. It has become so popular that a quick YouTube search for the term "fire challenge" turned up tens of thousands of videos.”

“[A student] did the challenge and ended up burning his waist and neck. Now he’s sounding the alarm, and has posted video of his burns as a warning.”

Source: ABC

Why should parents care?

  • This viral teen challenge is incredibly  dangerous and can be life threatening
  • This social media challenge isn’t limited to a certain area, it’s happening all over the country
  • The fire accelerants most commonly used in the challenge are easily accessible to most tweens and teens
  • Tweens and teens don’t understand risk the same way adults do
  • Parents should explain the consequences of dangerous social media trends and help them understand that fads like these come and go

What can parents do?

  • Follow our suggestions to help your child prepare for the responsibility of having a cell phone:
  • Ages 0-10: No phone
  • Age 10: Cell phone safety contract
  • Ages 10-13: Flip phone (SMS/text, phone calls)
  • Age 14: Smartphone (without social media apps installed)
  • Age 15: Smartphone (with positive social media apps installed)
  • Stay educated about viral social media challenges so you can be aware of what teens are doing online
  • Stay involved with your children and monitor their activity on social media.
  • Keep an eye out to see if they are engaging with any content related to this
  • Talk to your kids about social media challenges before they hear about them from their friends
  • The National Fire Protection Association recommends enlisting responsible peers to educate your kids. Share clips of other tweens and teens talking about the dangers of the challenge and why it’s not worth participating in

Conclusion

YouTube announced new community guidelines in early 2019 to crack down on dangerous or harmful videos, like people doing the Fire Challenge. But new videos keep popping up on popular apps and websites-- giving impressionable young people dangerous new ideas to get more likes or follows. It’s always better for kids to hear about dangerous topics from a trusted adult before they hear it from their friends or find out about it online.


, can you give us some feedback about this lesson?

Logged in and still not seeing content? This course may not be part of your membership plan. Click here to join.

Share Your Thoughts With Our Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Join our next digital citizenship live events:

Some events are free, others require a VIP membership

Become a Very Informed Parent (VIP) to get our social media suggestions in your email every Tuesday & Thursday.
Dotted arrow to right
Learn about our
"Very Informed Parent" 
VIP Program
Right arrow
Josh Ochs headshot Round
Schools & Districts: Partner with us to protect your community online

Our remote presentations (and website) teaches over a million students each year how to shine online. We teach students how their accounts can be used to create a portfolio of positive accomplishments that impress colleges and employers.

Partner with SmartSocial.com
Right arrow
SmartSocial podcast logo
Join Our Smart Social Podcast each week on iTunes

With over 240 episodes, Josh Ochs interviews psychologists, therapists, counselors, teachers, and parents while showing you how to navigate social media to someday shine online.

Listen on:

Apple Podcasts
Google Podcasts
Youtube
Spotify

Read More From Smart Social:

Read More Posts On Our Blog
Right arrow

Fire Challenge: A Life-Threatening Internet Challenge

Fill out this form to receive free tips each week

Note: Many of our 400+ resources now require a low-cost membership to help us deliver great research and expert safety guides. Become a member today, login here, or have your district request a partnership to make these resources free for your community.