Six disturbing online challenges every parent should watch out for this summer
School holiday boredom and the need to keep up with friends has sparked a series of worrying video challenges among children in the UK, according to Internet Matters.
The not-for-profit organisation is urging parents to familiarise themselves with a new wave of live-streaming apps as children look for more ways to entertain or gain attention this summer and talk to their children about the following online crazes:
1. The Deodorant Challenge
An endurance game where teens film themselves spraying deodorant a few inches from their skin to see who can endure the pain the longest. The challenge has been known to leave school children with horrific burns.
Click here to find out how you can help prevent youngsters from taking part.
2. Snapchat Streaks
A Snapstreak is achieved when two people send pictures back and forth on Snapchat for a consecutive number of days. To keep a streak going, you have to send a snap back to that friend within 24-hours. Snap counts have now become a tool by which others evaluate friendships and problems associated with cyberbullying have arisen around this craze.
Visit InternetMatters.org here for advice on how talk with your children about issues such as cyberbullying and excessive screen time.
3. Salt & Ice Challenge
Youngsters see who can outdo their peers by filming themselves placing salt, followed by an ice cube, on their skin. The salt reduces the temperature of the ice to as low as -26 degrees, which has resulted in horrific burns similar to frostbite.
For advice on how you can talk to children about peer pressure and how to say 'no' click here.
4. The Pass Out Challenge/Space Monkey/Choking Game
The Pass-Out Challenge which is also known as Space Monkey and The Choking Game picked up steam last year. Teens were filmed passing out on purpose in a bid to reach a euphoric high and it was deemed responsible for several deaths including Karnel Houghton, 12, of Birmingham.
For advice on how to raise the issue of watching, recording and sharing inappropriate content online with your children visit InternetMatters.org here.
5. The Touch My Body Challenge
This sees one person blindfolded while a second player forces them to touch a part on their body and guess what it is. The result is often participants being forced to touch another person's private body parts. The videos have been widely shared online in the past weeks on YouTube.
One way of helping children understand the consequences of sharing inappropriate videos online is the 'T-shirt test' would you wear it on your T-shirt? If not, then don't send it. For further advice from the experts at InternetMatters.org on this subject click here.
6. The Blue Whale Challenge
This sees teens follow a series of accounts on social media that instruct them to take part and livestream 50 challenges in 50 days. The challenge reportedly starts with watching a scary movie and eventually they escalate in extremes to include self-harm. On the 50th day, the participant is told to commit suicide.
Although many have dubbed it a hoax there are a series disturbing images on social media including self-harm under the guise of the Blue Whale. Instagram issues a warning message to users if they attempt to find cases of the 'suicide dare game' and directs them to Samaritans.
Reports have claimed the challenge is responsible for the death of over 130 children in Eastern Europe and parents of two US teenagers have also blamed the challenge for their child's suicide
If you are worried about your child's emotional welfare or are concerned they may have come across The Blue Whale Challenge contact The Samaritans on 116 123.
While many of the challenges might seem extreme, child psychologist and Internet MattersAmbassador Dr Linda Papadopoulos urged parents not to underestimate the pressures children are under to keep up with all the latest trends online.
"It's important parents don't bury their heads in the sand and assume their children would never take part in one of these challenges," Dr Papadopoulos said. "Children will be desperately wanting to engage online with their school social group during the holidays, which will be coupled with a desire to take part and the fear of missing out.
"We'd urge parents to have a simple one-to-one conversation with their child about these types of challenges and give them practical advice on what to do if they encounter anything like this, the risks involved and the consequences.
"We are also encouraging parents to familiarise themselves with the latest live-streaming apps and wake up to the fact their child can share live video with the world in an instant."
For further advice from the experts at InternetMatters.org click here.