Parents Beware: A Dangerous New Challenge Has Gone Viral

There is no shortage of inappropriate content on social media – and our kids are exposed to it every day.

Social media appears to be the center of most teens’ lives these days, and most of us cannot monitor everything they do and see online.

So now there is a nationwide alert about a dangerous new challenge that teens may be hearing about, and advice about what parents can do.

Police departments in several states have issued warnings to news outlets and on Facebook about the “48-hour challenge.”

Although many previous online challenges have caused injury – and even death – to the teens who attempt them, this latest challenge appears to cause more harm to parents.

The challenge involves a child going “missing” for two days.  In this way, their pictures will be posted countless times on social media, with thousands of likes, shares, and comments flooding the internet.

And this, authorities say, is the idea of this “game.”  The more likes, shares, and comments the child’s picture receives, the more “points” they receive.  And like any game, the most points win.

While police are issuing warnings nationwide due to rumors of this challenge, it appears no missing child case can be directly attributed to it – so far.

It is hard to imagine where a child could safely go for two days without being noticed, especially if it is to a friend’s house where parents should be present.

But, nonetheless, the idea of any child disappearing for two days without contact is enough to cause unimaginable pain and panic to parents.

Police spokesmen from several states are making a point of letting parents know they need to talk with their kids, even if they have never seen anything about the 48-hour challenge.

“The single best thing parents can do to avoid a situation like this is to spend time with your teens and with your children,” said one department spokesman according to Today.

“Certainly, I think it’s important in this day and age, for parents to be aware of who they’re hanging out with and what they’re being exposed to.”

Others say that education and open communication is key.

Talk to your children every day about making good choices and the dangerous potential consequences of participating in dares or online challenges.

Ask them why they think other kids are participating or posting these challenges online and what their thoughts are.

Limit access to social media, including limiting time on all devices.  Many parents are now choosing to only allow their children screen time when they are present in the room; others are not allowing their kids to have social media profiles at all.

Monitoring our children online becomes more difficult as they begin driving and working — when they usually have smartphones with them at all times.

But if we are open and honest in our communications and expectations from the time they are young, as well as making sure they are aware of the dangers out there, they are less likely to participate in these social media challenges.

Police also want parents to discuss with their children the other consequences of participating in the 48-hour challenge.

Countless man-hours and resources are used when a child is reported missing.  It is one of the top priority cases for any law enforcement department and is handled with the utmost urgency.

And police want teens to know that this is not a joke – they can be criminally charged and ordered to pay restitution for any fraudulent missing child case.

While there have been no reports of any injuries associated with this challenge, that is not the case with other “popular” challenges of the last year, as reported by News Channel 9 in Texas.

Besides challenges that caused minor injuries to kids recently, like the Eraser Challenge and Salt and Ice Challenge – both of which had countless children showing up in emergency rooms with skin burns – others have proven tragic.

The Choking Challenge of 2018 challenged kids to hold their breath or be choked to unconsciousness by a “friend” to see who could last the longest.

This resulted in at least one young boy’s death.  His mother found his lifeless body on his bedroom floor after he tried to beat the “hold your breath” record.

Others that seem harmless, like the Duct Tape Challenge in which kids would tape each other to chairs or poles to see how fast they could escape, caused at least one major injury when a teen fell and struck his skull on a piece of concrete.

And perhaps the worst one yet, the Fire-Spray Challenge, where kids would spray themselves with hairspray and then set themselves on fire before jumping into a swimming pool.

Mommy Underground has also reported on dangerous online challenges, along with advice on how to talk to your kids about them.

Kids think they are invincible, and it is our responsibility to drive home the dangers of these pranks.

There are dozens of them out there, with new challenges being issued each day.  Kids are seeking them out because they think they are funny, or they want to fit in.

Let them know it really can be a matter of life or death.

Due to the obvious dangers of social media and our kids’ access to smart devices, cell phone companies are making it easier for parents to monitor their child’s social media activity, profile, and receive important notifications to their own phones if their child is viewing dangerous content.

Talk to your kids.  Be present and available.  And monitor what they’re doing online.  While our kids are still minors, they are not entitled to an amount of privacy that may put their lives at risk.

What do you think of this latest social media challenge?  What do you do at home to discuss and monitor your child’s social media presence?  Leave us your comments.

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