Kids call it things like "Space Monkey," "Knockout," "Airplaning" and "The Choking Game." But children who play this "game" - choking themselves or friends with bags, a belt or tie, or even pushing up against a wall to cut off oxygen and produce a quick "high" - face deadly consequences. Several fatalities have been attributed to the game in the past year.
Kids may believe the game involves only passing out temporarily from a lack of oxygen, but cutting off oxygen to the brain can cause permanent brain damage or death.
Julie Rosenbluth, a public health expert at the American Council for Drug Education, says kids don't seem to understand the risks involved. "Most of the kids we see doing it are kids who would never be involved in drug use," she says. "We have to make kids aware that this is just as dangerous."
Health professionals urge parents to talk to kids about the game and why it is so dangerous. Some warning signs that might indicate your child has been playing the game include bloodshot eyes, frequent headaches or marks on the neck.
Christina Elston is the contributing health editor for United Parenting Publications.