The choking game and YouTube: a dangerous combination

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2010 Mar;49(3):274-9. doi: 10.1177/0009922809339203. Epub 2009 Jul 13.


Purpose: To study postings of partial asphyxiation by adolescents on YouTube and to increase awareness of this dangerous activity as well as the value of YouTube as a research tool.

Methods: Videos were searched on YouTube using many terms for recreational partial asphyxiation. Data were gathered on the participants and on the occurrence of hypoxic seizure.

Results: Sixty-five videos of the asphyxiation game were identified. Most (90%) participants were male. A variety of techniques were used. Hypoxic seizures were witnessed in 55% of videos, but occurred in 88% of videos that employed the "sleeper hold" technique. The videos were collectively viewed 173550 times on YouTube.

Conclusions: YouTube has enabled millions of young people to watch videos of the "choking game" and other dangerous activities. Seeing videos may normalize the behavior among adolescents. Increased awareness of this activity may prevent some youths from participating and potentially harming themselves or others.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Airway Obstruction*
  • Asphyxia
  • Canada
  • Child
  • Dangerous Behavior*
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / complications
  • Information Dissemination / methods
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk-Taking
  • Seizures / etiology
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / prevention & control*
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / psychology
  • Sex Factors
  • Video Games / psychology*
  • Young Adult