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Social Media Challenges

Posted March 5, 2019, 11:40 AM. Updated July 13, 2022, 10:41 AM.

Tips to help parents keep their children safe online.

Online challenges such as the Mannequin and Momo range from being fun to completely frightening for kids. These challenges are reported in the news and understandably cause many parents concern. Children are hearing about them through numerous sources including social media and each other.

The hype around these crazes often leads children to investigate for themselves. Even though these challenges may appear to be more fear than fact, it is important that parents talk to their children about them.

What Can Parents Do?

Information derived from Common Sense Media

Talk about it.

Though you can’t always be with your children to prevent dangerous behavior, your words really can stay with them. Say, "If you ever want to do an internet challenge, check with me first."

  • Ask general questions about whether your child has seen anything online that has made them upset or worried.
  • Explain that many things that happen online can be misleading or frightening. Some things are designed to gain a lot of attention and to scare people.
  • Make sure your child knows that it is not ok to either communicate with or follow directions from any strangers online.

Get your child to think.

Help your child think through the challenges and whether they're safe or have potential risks. Say, "Walk through each step and figure out where things could go wrong."

Acknowledge peer pressure.

Today's kids think of internet personalities as their peers, so seeing kids on YouTube doing a challenge could influence your kid. Say, "Why do you want to do this? Is this a video of yourself that you really want out in the world?

Stay (somewhat) up to date.

Ask your child about what's happening in their lives when they're not distracted -- even when it seems like they don't want you to. Sometimes kids are more willing to talk about what's going on with other kids than with themselves, so pose questions about friends, school, and trends. Once the conversation is open, you can get a sense of what your kid thinks about the latest craze -- and if they're safe. Keep an open mind and intervene if you're concerned. Say, "Would you consider doing a viral stunt if someone asked you? Which ones would you do and not do?"

Model responsible online habits.

Some parents are the ones recording their kids taking these challenges, so make sure your involvement sends the message you intend. Today it might be harmless, but tomorrow it might be more dangerous. Help your kids make the distinction so they can stay safe. Say, "Let's do a funny challenge together, but we'll only film it if you want to, and we'll only share it with family."

 Monitor online activity.

  • Put phones and computers away at night.
  • Set standards on what your kids can and cannot do online.
  • Teach your kids to keep personal information private.
  • Teach your kids to use social networking sites safely.
  • Encourage your kids to come to you if they encounter a problem.
  • Talk to your kids about their Internet use

If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact your school counselor.