Dangerous fads like Choking Game Challenge target at risk teens

With more children having access to devices, internet challenges have grown in popularity. 

One in particular that's causing some concern is called The Choking Game challenge, a dangerous and potentially fatal activity where children attempt to limit blood flow and oxygen to the brain to produce a 'high.'

Dr. Vanessa Jensen of Cleveland Clinic Children's says research shows phenomena such as The Choking Game are more likely to be tried by children who have symptoms of depression, behavioral disorders, or aggressive behaviors.

"Teens and pre-teens who have some suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm, in previous studies, have shown to be associated with individuals who have tried these games, supposed games such as this choking game, or other high-risk behaviors," she says. 

So how many kids are attempting these challenges? 

In studying the choking game challenge, researchers looked at children between the ages of nine and 16 and found close to 10 percent of the nearly 2,000 children studied had tried this game.

Dr. Jensen says adolescents and teens participating in risk-taking behavior is nothing new, but what raises a red flag is that these internet games seem to attract kids who are emotionally distressed.

The concern is that these games may be a way for some teens to play with the idea of suicide.

Dr. Jensen says kids trying risky things, like taking too much ibuprofen on purpose, can be a call for attention that should never be ignored. So what do parents do? 

Keep asking questions. 

"Talk about it, ask about it. Whenever something's on the news, or in media that a parent sees about teens, bring it up over dinner time-dinner conversation, breakfast conversation. 'You know, I heard about this; what do you and your friends think about this?'" Dr. Jensen suggests. 

She adds parents should keep in mind that many kids won't immediately admit to partaking in risky behavior, but parents can often tell whether their child is being honest. 

If you suspect they're not being honest, keep asking.

Complete results of the study can be found in "Pediatrics."