New TikTok 'Orbeez Challenge' Poses Serious Risk to Kids

A new TikTok trend called the #OrbeezChallenge is getting some kids badly injured and others facing criminal charges. Here is what you need to know.

Hands playing with orbeez
Photo: Getty

Over the last few years, we have lived through many poorly thought out TikTok challenges, from Tide Pods and cinnamon swallowing to milk crate climbing and even slapping teachers. But now, there is a new TikTok challenge that has some parents and the police on guard—the Orbeez Challenge. It may sound innocent, but it's causing injuries and even jail time.

What Are Orbeez?

Orbeez are brightly colored, soft-gel balls that are advertised as a stress relief type toy or crafting material that kids can use to add to slime, put in water to watch it expand, and can be added to sensory tables or even the bathtub to make bath time more enticing. The company, however, is seemingly unaware that the TikTok challenge is asking kids to shoot each other with the popular gel pellets, which is worrying since the Orbeez website is using the hashtag to advertise their toy.

What Is the Orbeez Challenge?

The Orbeez Challenge has kids shooting soft-gel pellets at random passersby, causing serious injuries and putting people in harm's way.

In Georgia, two children were shot in the face and abdomen, suffering serious injuries after a group of teenagers driving a golf cart allegedly shot them with frozen Orbeez gel balls.

In a Facebook post by the Peachtree City Police Department, authorities described an incident in which two children, ages 8 and 10 were shot with Orbeez that had been frozen to increase bodily harm. In the post, the police shared that "one 14-year-old male was charged with Aggravated Assault, and another was charged with Aggravated Assault (Party to a Crime) and Underage Operation of a Golf Cart."

In another disturbing incident, police in Volusia County, Florida, arrested a teen after allegedly shooting an Amazon worker in the face and neck while driving. The Volusia County Sheriff took to Twitter to warn the public not to participate in #OrbeezChallenge.

"It's been reported that videos of the 'Orbeez Challenge' have been circulating on TikTok during Spring Break. Just be aware that these shootings are crimes, and when you're identified you may face criminal charges for your part in the challenge."

In a statement to NPR, Spin Master wrote, "Children's product safety is paramount at Spin Master, and we are committed to providing children and their families with the highest quality toys, games and activities. Spin Master does not manufacture or sell gel guns. Orbeez are designed for educational, creative, and sensory play and are not intended to be used as projectiles or inserted in mechanisms."

Kids Need Reminders About the Dangers of TikTok Trends

The Peachtree Facebook post ended their public notice with a call to action from parents to make sure their kids are not participating in the #OrbeezChallenge. "The Peachtree City Police Department reminds parents to have conversations with their children about the serious implications of this dangerous trend. All violations of city ordinance or state law regarding discharging of these weapons on city property or at unwilling participants will be prosecuted accordingly."

Most of the publicly reported incidents appear to be committed by teens, which gives us all an opportunity to remember that while it may seem that older kids don't need parents in the same ways that they did as young kids, they still need boundaries guidance.

During the days of the milk crate challenge that saw kids across the country getting seriously hurt, Parents reached out to Nkeiruka Orajiaka, M.D., emergency medicine physician at Nationwide Children's Hospital who noted that it important to remember that kids' brains are still developing— yes, even teens.

"Developmentally, kids and younger teens do not have their frontal lobe, a part of the brain, fully developed yet," Orajika told Parents. "This is the part of the brain that processes consequences of an action before undertaking the action. That means they are more likely to jump into trends without thinking or considering any potential harm."

Now more than ever, it is important to engage in ongoing conversations with your kids and teens about social media use. Kids and teens may seem independent, but they still need help and loving reminders about safety and consequences. As the Peachtree City Police Department and the Volusia Sheriff's Office both pointed out, some of these challenges can lead to severe injuries criminal charges.

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