Impressionable teenagers and young adults are jumping on a new TikTok challenge that’s going to end with a large number of young people with criminal charges. This is what happens when social media becomes so addictive that even a threat of criminal charges isn’t stopping people from using the Orbeez guns to shoot people with water beads.
The “Orbeez Challenge” has injured many people, and police departments are speaking out to urge the public to be aware of the trend.
Chris Flanagan, the Superintendent of Police in Radnor Township said, “These challenges seem like they are funny. They put laughter and other things behind them such as on TikTok and other social media platforms but anything that scares somebody or uses a weapon just is not a good idea.”
Being scared is one thing, but the truth is that a gun, even a toy gun, could easily be mistaken as a real one. These days there are so many variations of firearms that it can be difficult to determine. While the toy guns that use the Orbeez balls appear fake, there have been multiple instances in the past where criminals have modified real guns to appear to be toys.
Flanagan also said, “I don’t even want to speculate what could happen, but you can imagine if an officer sees a weapon pointing out of a car and people running, especially at a school, and we know how sensitive everything in a school is, things could have really escalated. We are lucky that didn’t happen.”
Though the toy guns aren’t deadly, they still cause pain and injury. In Peachtree City, Georgia, a 14-year-old was shot with an Orbeez gun from a golf cart. Two teenagers have been charged in the incident; one with aggravated assault, and the other as party to a crime with the other juvenile, which can carry penalties as tough as being charged with the crime.
The manufacturer of Orbeez, Spin Master, said, “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.”
To be fair to the manufacturer of the gel pellets, as well as the toy gun that fires them, there have been toy guns similar to the Orbeez gun for years. The only difference between the Orbeez gun and others has been the social media exposure.
Addiction Center reported on social media addiction saying, “Although the majority of peoples’ use of social media is non-problematic, there is a small percentage of users that become addicted to social networking sites and engage in excessive or compulsive use.”
Just like firearms, the object shouldn’t be the focal point. Rather, the desire of young people to engage in these challenges has been increasingly problematic. Given the “Tide Pod Challenge” that was injuring people several years ago, it’s probably best to stay away from challenges from the internet altogether.