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FDA says says parents need to monitor kids' social media activity

By Gary Guthrie of ConsumerAffairs

September 26, 2022

PhotoOf all the things you can cook chicken with, would you believe people are actually trying NyQuil?

Trying that concoction automatically qualifiesto mostas foolish, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says there are people who have bought into a TikTok challenge where NyQuil or another similar over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medication is cooked up as “Sleepy Chicken.”

The challenge sounds silly and unappetizing and it is. But it could also be very unsafe. Boiling a medication can make it much more concentrated and change its properties in other ways, the agency said.

Even if you dont eat the chicken, inhaling the medications vapors while cooking could cause high levels of the drugs to enter your body. It could also hurt your lungs. Put simply: Someone could take a dangerously high amount of the cough and cold medicine without even realizing it.

Stop right there

When ConsumerAffairs searched TikTok for the Nyquil and chicken challenge, it was evident that there had been some activity. When we typed in NyQuil chicken, we were immediately met with a stop-right-there warning from TikTok in an effort to stop us from making a bad move with a host of reasons and a suggestion that we take a good hard look at the platforms online challenges warnings.

Still, people are skirting around TikToks caution signs by misspelling the challenge as things like pollo nightquill and cooking chicken in nightquil.

While pharmacies can act as a gatekeeper on some medications to try and protect people from purchasing certain OTC products they might misuse as, say, a hallucinogenic, the FDA suggestsits an uphill battle. And NyQuils not the first OTC medication included in a TikTok challenge.

The agency said an earlier challenge urged people to take large doses of the allergy medicine diphenhydramine — sold OTC in many products, including some under the brand name Benadryl–to try to induce hallucinations.

Social media trends and peer pressure can be a dangerous combination to your children and their friends, especially when involving misusing medicines. Nonprescription, also called over-the-counter or OTC,drugs are readily available in many homes, making these challenges even riskier. OTC drugs can pose significant risks if theyre misused or abused, the agency said.

Time for a family meeting?

The FDA advises parents to keep both OTC and prescription drugs away from children to prevent accidental overdoses, but they should also have a heart-to-heart talk with their kids and discuss the harm ingredients thatare in some of these medications can cause.

Sit down with your children and discuss the dangers of misusing drugs and how social media trends can lead to real, sometimes irreversible, damage. Remind your children that overdoses can occur with OTC drugs as well as with prescription drugs, the agency suggests.

It said it will answer any question a parent has about a medication, including an OTC drug, too. All it takes is an email todruginfo@fda.hhs.gov, or a phone call to 1-855-543-DRUG (3784) and 301-796-3400.

TikTok adds its own warning

TikTok is proactive about the situation, too, advising anyone who might think a challenge sounds cool or exciting to do these four things:

STOP: Pause a moment.

THINK: Is it safe? Is it harmful? Is it real? If youre unsure, check with an adult or friends, or look for more information from authoritative sources online.

DECIDE: If its risky or harmful, or youre not sure if it is, dont do it. Its not worth putting yourself or others at risk.

ACT: Report harmful challenges or hoaxes in-app. Dont share them.

Even though having a frank parent-to-teenager discussion can be difficult, TikTok went on record to emphasize the importance.

Although it may seem daunting, having conversations with teens about online challenges is really important. Most teens have seen online challenges and many have taken part, so telling them all challenges are dangerous wont ring true, TikTok wrote.

Instead, let them know you get they may be curious about online challenges and youre open to talking, listening, and learning with them.

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