There have been a vast number of online challenges, popping up and then disappearing as fast as they arrived. Some are harmless fun. Here is link to some of the more popular harmless online challenges for 2018.
The challenges are popular with those who have their own YouTube channels. The challenge can often be used as a means to attract more subscribers. Many can ask their fans, or followers to suggest a challenge, for the channel host to perform. However, there are others which can have tragic and sometimes fatal consequences, for those who take part.
So why would kids attempt online challenges?
There are a variety of reasons why kids would choose to engage in an online challenge. Firstly, what makes kids and adolescents really vulnerable to participation, is their need for social connection; affirmation or validation from their peers. Everybody wants to feel the experience of acceptance within a peer group.
The online world has the potential to reap a massive amount of approval or validation for a single image, post or video that has been uploaded. The more view's; likes and comments, a person gets from this online audience, the greater the reward and prestige for posting the challenge. In reality, it's simply a person seeking a feeling of acceptance or validation within their peer group online. Often this may be the acceptance or validation they are seeking in the real world, but unable to attain.
This can put Social Media users a very steep and slippery slope towards a negative consequence, for an act they believed is going to be harmless. Then there is the ever-increasing need to perform, for their own audience. This demand from subscribers can cause an increase in frequency and the level of risk, of each subsequent challenge. Often people run out of ideas; or are naturally led, or perhaps dared to perform a more reckless act. We can all remember being teenagers. A genuine sence of immortality existed for us all then. The mistaken belief, that we are invulnerable to pain. This leads to very poor judgement and decision-making, when it comes to making a risk assessment.
Our children are only experiencing the very same thoughts we did, but now in a completely different environment. There is a great reward for recording or documenting an online challenge, you get your 15 min of online fame, or possibly infamy if it goes really wrong. Online challenges have gone wrong. Drastically wrong, ending with a loss of life. Ironically this misadventure can then take on a whole life of its own, being spread virally online; receiving likes, shares and comments to support the fallen misfortune youth, or worse comments daring others to try reenact the fatal task.
Education is key to protecting young people from themselves, when it comes to online challenges. Helping them to understand, why they might feel the need to take part. How reward or validation sought from others online in a negative way, is not necessary or safe. It has consequences. Consequences which, while they may not be fatal, can have a far-reaching impact. It can permanently damage a persons reputation for the rest of their adult life. Even impact applications, when it comes to School, College or far worse any future employment prospects.
We suggest parents talk to their children about the dangers of online challenges. The harmful and longterm implications. Children and teens need to be constantly reminded, there is no such thing as delete, when something is posted online. Ask if your child has taken part in an online challenge. If it has been posted and reflects negatively on them, commence removing it from where ever possible. Always remind them that anything they put online is for life, not just for the much sought after reward of validation. the validation children need in life should come from family members, not from individuals online.