COVINGTON, Ga. -- "Ahh, ahh, it burns," says an unidentified teenager trying to impress the cyberworld with his ability to hold salt and ice against his skin. But instead of cries of pain, teens seem to hear an invitation to try it themselves.
"Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame and with things going viral these days I think kids are really reinforced by that kind of behavior," says child psychologist Anthony Levitas with the Behavioral Institute of Atlanta.
Principal Victor Lee says the cyber world hit home when teachers started to report rectangular and square shaped burn marks on students arms. His school nurse told him she'd seen 24 students, some with multiple burns, in just two weeks.
"They were red, In some cases they were puffy. Some of our kids had two or three marks. They're leaving some significant scarring in the children," said Lee.
That's when they decided it had gone far enough. He requested a voicemail alert be sent out to every parent with a child in his school.
Tara Patterson heard that message and immediately talked with her children about it. She'd already caught her four kids playing the cinnamon challenge, another game where players try to see how long they can hold a tablespoon of cinnamon in their mouth without drinking water or spitting it out. She says her children told her she was overreacting.
"It is a big deal. Just because nothing happened in this particular thing, the next thing you try you're not going to be so lucky. You can't just try these things because you see it on the internet."
Even if her children didn't agree, Levitas says Patterson did the right thing.
"I think the main take away is communicate with your kids regularly, not just when there's a crisis but have a regular time set up to talk with your kids so it doesn't feel so awkward when the tough stuff comes up," Levitas said.
Levitas says a story on the news or voicemail alert from the school makes a perfect launch pad for an open discussion. But he warns, if your children admit to trying something, it's important to remain calm as they share that sensitive information.