It seems that every time I log onto social media nowadays I come across a host of videos showing various individuals performing different social media challenges. The person is either being doused with cold water, eating somethingnasty, or doing something seriously bone-headed (like lighting oneself on fire in a shower or playing the “pass out” game).
It’s unfortunate that so many teens (and even preteens) are seeing these videos and deciding to take part in them as well.
Knowing that this is the case, I decided to have a talk with my daughters about this popular yet unsettling trend.
I began by asking my daughters why someone would want to do any of these challenges. My daughters were correct in saying that most people (especially teens) do it for attention or in an effort to “be cool.” I then asked if they would ever do a challenge for either of those reasons. Both said that they would not (I hope they were being honest, and I expect that they were).
I then asked if there were any challenges that would be okay. My older daughter (who is eleven years-old) quickly responded that it would be okay to do a challenge so long as it wasn’t dangerous. I thought that was a pretty good answer and we discussed a few examples of challenges that might appear on the surface to be safe, but that might have hidden dangers (for example, eating something nasty might force someone to swallow too quickly, which could lead to choking).
But what about challenges that may not be dangerous but that are instead intended to embarrass or humiliate the person taking the challenge? We discussed the seriousness of these challenges as well.
We came to the conclusion that three questions should be asked before taking part in any sort of challenge:
1. Is the challenge dangerous? If so, then don’t do it…it won’t make you cool, it will make you look ignorant.
2. Does the challenge have the potential to embarrass or humiliate? Again, don’t do it if this is the case.
3. Is the risk worth the reward? In most cases it will not be…so why do it?
If teens (or preteens) actually took the time to consider the answers to these simple questions then perhaps there wouldn’t be so many of these videos cluttering up my Facebook page. Also, if teens are getting enough attention at home then perhaps there won’t be any need to accept these challenges for attention.