A game called the “Eraser Challenge” is making its way around schools, and it’s proving to be dangerous. It involves students rubbing an eraser on their hand or arm while completing a mundane task like reciting the A-B-C’s. Sounds innocent enough, right? However, the point of the challenge is to bear the friction until you outlast your peers, meaning students are rubbing their skin raw to the point of open wounds.
U.S. News & World Report featured input from two medical professionals about the health risks associated with the challenge in this recent article. Dr. Yolanda Reid Chassiakos, a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California–Los Angeles’ David Geffen School of Medicine, explained the eraser is an abrasive agent that, when rubbed against skin hard or long enough, can scratch the skin open. Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a Seattle pediatrician and Seattle Mama Doc blog author, explained skin is not sterile so it’s very easy for an open wound to get infected. Articles are circulating the internet about the health risks of the challenge, including the risk of hospitalization for infection.
If you see students with burns on their hands or arms, please consider making an announcement or sending a letter home to parents alerting them of the game and its potential to cause health risks to children.
Why do students participate in these dangerous behaviors? Dr. Chassiakos argues these games become popular among youth because people normalize the behavior by posting videos or pictures of the challenge online. This, in turn, encourages students to partake in the trending activity or even peer pressure others to do it.
When students are playing the Eraser Challenge, they’re not thinking about the risk of the game. They’re thinking about becoming popular or “going viral,” which Dr. Chassiakos believes may be a greater risk. She suggests families turn to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Family Media Plan to start a dialogue with children about how to properly use the internet. The page helps families create a plan about when and where the internet will be used, how it will be used responsibility and how to better balance time on and offline.