By: Chyrissee Lee & Kym Weinandy, SFHS Wellness Counselors
Today’s Wellness topic deals with the dangerous on-line and social media challenges teens are participating in. Please talk to your daughter about the dangers not only of these challenges, but also of allowing others to manipulate them into doing something they really don’t want to do.
DANGEROUS ON-LINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA CHALLENGES: These are viral challenges that are popular with students on almost every social network.
Viral challenges like these encourage teens to do dangerous things just for likes, views, attention, and subscribers. These challenges usually target students across several social networks and require them to perform dangerous activities. Students have to post proof of themselves partaking in the dangerous challenge on social media. Often, these challenges have serious repercussions and encourage students to behave in a way we have never seen before.
The Choking Game aka Pass-out Challenge: Age 10+
The choking game is a dangerous practice of tweens and teens in which they self-strangulate in order to achieve a brief high. The high is the result of oxygen rushing back to the brain after breathing is cut off by the practice of strangulation. The choking game (also known as space monkey) is very dangerous and can easily lead to accidental death. “Looking for a High” - pass-out, or fainting games have been around for generations, but there is renewed concern in the era of social media and YouTube videos, which can increase peer pressure and make these seem like a normal way to pursue a high without drugs or alcohol. In order to achieve a high, children may use ropes, scarves, or other items to strangle themselves, either alone or within a group. The game is more likely to be deadly when such items are used, and when practiced alone rather than with a friend or group.
The Blue Whale Challenge: Age: 10+
The Blue Whale Challenge is a game teens play to perform harmful tasks over 50 days, with the last task urging the victim to die by suicide. The challenge as a whole is meant to harm students and slowly get them to trust the game. Each challenge in the game shames the student to take another action (or they will share their secrets with the public). Get involved, have a healthy dialog with your daughter about their day and social media. Pay attention to any changes in your teen’s behavior, especially if they become reserved, withdrawn, or fearful of social media. Consider contacting your teen’s school. If your child has engaged with anything like the Blue Whale Challenge, other students might be engaging with it too. Watch our Blue Whale Challenge video.
Condom Snorting Challenge: Age: 12+
The condom snorting challenge is a viral trend where teens post a video of themselves snorting a condom through their nose and pulling it out of their mouth. While this may sound like a joke, teens have been doing this challenge since 2007. With one YouTube search, our team was able to find videos that were uploaded in April 2018 of teens doing the challenge (2 teens had even live streamed it that same day). This challenge can be very dangerous and can cause choking. Health experts warn of infection or allergic reaction. Viral challenges like this encourage teens to do dangerous things just for likes, views, attention, and subscribers. Watch our Condom Snorting Challenge video.
The Deodorant Challenge: Age: 10+
The deodorant challenge is a viral teen trend where students spray their bare skin (or someone else’s) with aerosol deodorant for as long as they can stand it. The challenge is painful, can have a lasting impact, causes scarring, and is causing some teens to be hospitalized. Knowing about social media challenges and trends before your teen does can help you keep them safe before an incident occurs. Watch our Deodorant Challenge video.
Momo Challenge: Age: 14+
The Momo Challenge is a dangerous viral social media trend with teens and tweens. The challenge encourages students to contact an unknown person called “Momo” via WhatsApp. Throughout the challenge, students are sent violent and graphic images and texts. If students want to stop the challenge “Momo” threatens to leak their personal information. Students who partake in the Momo Challenge are actively communicating with strangers who intend to encourage self-harm. Watch the Momo Challenge video.
Slender Man: Age: 8+
Slender Man is a fictional character who originated from a viral internet meme. The character is portrayed as a tall, thin, and faceless man in a black suit who goes around traumatizing people. Although he is fictitious, the Slender Man is causing teens to act dangerously. In 2014, two tween girls stabbed a classmate and claimed it was in an attempt to act on behalf of the Slender Man after reading about him online. Watch our Slender Man video.
Tide Pod Challenge: Age: 12+
The Tide Pod Challenge encouraged students to consume a plastic laundry detergent pod, and post a video of it to social media. At first, the challenge started as a joke, but now poison control centers are warning parents about this dangerous activity. The Tide Pod Challenge is incredibly dangerous. It’s essentially ingesting poison. Even if a student doesn’t eat the entire laundry detergent pod, just ingesting a tiny bit can lead to serious health repercussions. Watch our Tide Pod Challenge safety video.
Please remember that there is always support available on campus for students, families and staff. If you have questions or concerns about how to communicate this topic with your daughter, please do not hesitate to contact our Wellness Office at (916) 737-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org.