How shock pens work

Written by lauren perez-asencio
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How shock pens work
Shock pens can make great gag gifts for the right audience. (Pen image by Vasiliy Dmitrienko from

Shock pens are interesting little gadgets that allow you to play not-so-innocent tricks on your friends or co-workers who make a habit of constantly taking pens that don't belong to them. You can purchase shock pens at novelty stores.

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How shock pens work

Shock pens look just like regular click-top pens, but they have an interesting twist: These pens contain voltage transformers. When the pen isn't in use and isn't clicked, the transformer and the voltage aren't activated, allowing the user to hold and carry the pen as if it were normal. However, when the top of the pen is clicked by the unsuspecting user (whose intentions are to write with it), the transformer is immediately activated. As a result, the shock pen emits a jolt of energy--sometimes up to 756 volts--that shocks the person holding the pen.

The shock can be brief and mild, with the victim feeling just a jolt or tingle throughout their body, or it can be much more painful and aggravating. The electric current can interfere with medical treatment and can potentially further aggravate medical conditions.

How to use as a gag

Place the shock pen on your target's office desk or in his line or sight. If he regularly reaches for pens to write with, all you will have to do is wait for the right moment and he will pick up the pen. Otherwise, offer it to them to write with after you ask them to sign something for you (such as a birthday card for a friend).

Shock pen warnings

Shock pens can be offered as innocent jokes, but these products have the potential to harm. Electric shocks, even small ones, traumatise and inflict pain on the body. Mild reactions to electric shocks are brief tingles and jolts, but more severe reactions can cause more severe pain and even burns. The shock also can trigger continuous contraction of muscles, rendering the target immobilised and unable to let go of the shock pen.

Shock pens are not intended to be used on those who use pacemakers or other electronic devices in their body. They are also not recommended for people with heart problems or epilepsy. Shock pens are not to be used on children, and children should not be allowed to use or play with shock pens, even under adult supervision.

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