POLK COUNTY, Fla. — A new social media challenge taking the internet by storm is putting many law enforcement agencies on alert.
The latest viral social media trend, called the "Orbeez challenge," involves Orbeez. They're "superabsorbent polymers" as described by their manufacturer on Amazon, and once water is added to a single bead, it can grow up to 10 times its original size.
The popular toy has become an international TikTok craze. Videos using the #OrbeezChallenge hashtag show people doing wacky experiments with the colorful jellies, like filling bathtubs and even pools. But, there's a more sinister version of the viral challenge making the rounds, and law enforcement wants to put an end to it.
Authorities have been reporting people shooting Orbeez with a gel blaster or similar type of gun. The toy becomes a soft, gel-like product when water is added, but police warn they can hurt if fired.
This version of the challenge has led to two arrests, including two teens in Volusia County who were caught on camera firing at several neighbors, children and even an Amazon truck driver.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says shooting somebody with an airsoft gun outside an organized game could lead to battery or assault charges. In some instances, he says firing an airsoft gun could end worse.
"If somebody misunderstands that toy gun for a real gun, and I’ve even heard that they’re painting them to look real instead of toys, you can be shot," Judd says. "And, if you shoot it into a vehicle, certainly that’s a felony of the second degree for shooting into an occupied vehicle. So, it’s just a bad idea all the way around."
So, whether it's for likes or bragging rights, Judd says to not hop on the challenge.
"Just because you see it on TikTok, just because you see it on social media, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea," Judd says. "So, it starts as fun and games but can end up causing you to be arrested, be injured or be killed. Don’t do it."