Do not try this at home! Officials warn against dangerous new viral challenge on web

A dangerous new viral challenge involving an iPhone charger and a penny has taken over the internet, prompting officials to issue a warning

Officials in Massachusetts have warned parents of a dangerous new viral trend among millennials that involves the use of a penny and an iPhone charger.

iPhone charger and Penny challenge

State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey released an advisory on Tuesday to inform the public of a new viral challenge that is causing teenagers to plug an iPhone charger into a wall outlet and slide a penny between the outlet and the charger, causing sparks, electrical damage, and fires.

iphone and penny challenge
TikToks4You / YouTube

The viral challenge has gained in popularity and spawned millions of views on social media after appearing on the popular TikTok app and has been responsible for at least two fires at a local residence and a school, according to Ostroskey.

Westford Academy Fire

In an attempt to imitate the video, students at the Westford Academy tried to place a penny on top of the metal prongs of a phone charger that was partially inserted in the outlet, sparking a fire. The students who sparked the blaze at the school are now facing charges after their stunt fried at least two electrical outlets and forced entire school to evacuate.

Shortly after the incident, video started circulating among Westford Academy students showing the suspected student performing the act. Check out the video below:

TikToks4You / YouTube

Safety Measures

"Participating in any of these viral trends or challenges can be dangerous and have serious repercussions," Canton Fire Chief Charles Doody said in a news release. "We want parents to be aware of this trend so they can help to educate their kids about the danger and prevent possible fires, electrical damage or injuries."

Doody shared the following safety tips from the U.S. Fire Administration:

  • Insert plugs fully into sockets
  • If you have young children, install tamper-resistant electrical outlets
  • Replace wall outlets if plugs do not fit tightly
  • Do not overload outlets
  • Never force a three-pronged plug into a two-slot outlet

He also urged parents and children to discuss the dangers of recreating viral video stunts, in addition to recognising dangerous activity on the internet.