Massachusetts firefighters are warning parents to be on guard about the latest social media challenge that can potentially spark fires and scorch electrical outlets.
One of the greatest attributes of teenagers is also one of their most dangerous pitfalls: a willingness to try just about anything without much thought about the end result.
Firefighters from the Holden Fire Department have already responded to a handful of incidents involving teenagers trying out one of the latest social media challenges.
The challenge seems to have originated from TikTok, a social media network that centers around sharing short videos with friends.
According to WZZM, the idea to slide a penny between a phone charger and an electrical outlet has gone viral in Massachusetts, resulting in one fire and a handful of scorched outlets.
“The Holden Fire Department would like to warn parents of a new viral teen video that may result in fire incidents and cause serious injury,” the department wrote on Facebook.
“The “challenge” seen on the popular video app, TikTok, involves using the plug part of a phone charger, partially inserting it into the wall outlet, and then sliding a penny down the wall onto the exposed prongs,” the department continued.
“The result is sparks, electrical system damage, and in some cases fire.”
Two students at Plymouth High School got caught trying the prank earlier this week, which resulted in scorched outlets, WZZM reported.
Students at Westford Academy also tried the challenge, which did lead to a fire.
According to an advisory from Massachusetts State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey, the student or students responsible for starting the fire will face charges.
“These videos are a concern and similar to past viral videos that encourage unsafe behavior,” the Holden Fire Department wrote.
“We are alerting parents to this challenge, and advise them to not only look for signs of fire play like scorched outlets, but to have conversations about fire and electrical safety with tweens and teenagers.”
Teenagers are growing up in an era where information — for better or worse — can be quickly spread across social media platforms.
In the name of a good laugh, teens tend to impulsively repeat unsafe behavior without much thought to the consequence.
“Social media elevates it,” Plymouth Fire Chief Ed Bradley told WZZM.
“They see it online, they see someone do it, they start laughing, they run away and no one gets hurt and they assume the same will happen when they do it, so they think it’s funny to do it in a classroom.”
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