Image: Gokudabbing, CC BY-SA 4.0
Online crazes continue to grab the imagination of children and young people. We’re written about viral internet trends like the Ice Bucket Challenge before but they keep on coming. Here’s what parents need to know about some more
Taking part in a viral internet challenge can give young people a sense of belonging and a chance to boost their own online persona, but some are more sinister and could pose risks. Here are some parents should be aware of. By Yusuf Tamanna
Blue Whale challenge
This online challenge hit the headlines after initial reports speculating about whether it was a hoax.
The ‘game’, set over 50 days, involves challenges ranging from self-harming to staying mute for a long period of time. In the game, the challenges grow progressively darker, with the final challenge reportedly culminating in the participant taking their own life.
Understandably, parents were horrified when news of it broke, made worse when the supposed creator of the challenge was jailed for three years after a court in Russia found him guilty of encouraging two teenage girls to kill themselves.
Despite all the media attention, there haven’t been any direct cases that link the challenge to having actually caused the suicides of young people in Russia, or across the world. It appears to be a case of these young people having pre-existing mental health issues, which the challenge was believed to have exploited.
Parenting for a Digital Future has written about Blue Whale for parents, underlining the importance of media literacy in young people, and knowing how to report online content that's dangerous and encourages harm.
If you're worried about your child, read our article Talking to your child about suicidal thoughts.
This challenge involved groups of people standing completely still – just like shop mannequins or dummies – while a moving camera filmed them. The videos were usually accompanied by music. The popular song Black Beatles by rap duo Rae Sremmurd became synonymous with the challenge as videos were shared across social media, amassing millions of views.
Celebrities from Beyoncé, Adele to Hilary Clinton got in on the action, with freeze-frame poses becoming more elaborate as participants stood still in mid-air or balancing themselves on tables and chairs.
Dabbing (or The Dab)
The dab is a simple dance move which was made popular by the American hip-hop music scene, when someone drops their head into a bent crook while raising their other arm. It resembles someone who is sneezing on the inside of their elbow.
Dabbing can be in response to anything. Young people either use it as a dance move, a greeting or even just a reaction to being filmed on camera. Again celebrities from across the world have been seen dabbing, which is believed to have helped it become a viral sensation.
As with the Mannequin Challenge, this is not something parents would ordinarily have to speak to their child about as it has not been associated with causing harm to people taking part.
The Backpack Challenge
The idea is that one person runs through an onslaught of rucksacks being thrown at them. The bags are typically filled with heavy books and the goal is to make it to the other side of the room while still standing.
‘The possibility of injury does exist so you may want to talk to your child about the risks’
There have been no major injuries reported from this challenge beyond a few cuts and bruises from the impact of the bags hitting the person, but the possibility of injury does exist so you may want to talk to your child about the risks.
100 Layers Challenge
This, as the name implies, is when a person applies 100 layers of something to themselves. The most popular videos on YouTube have been people applying 100 layers of nail varnish, lipstick or foundation on their face.
While it appears fairly harmless – and a bit wasteful – there have been some reported dangers involved in the challenge. One person reportedly put 100 layers of clothes on and then panicked when they struggled to get the clothes off.
Torn Ligament Challenge
This challenge grew in popularity after a meme showing you how to break your own thumb went viral earlier this year. Young people have taken to Instagram and Twitter to show that the challenge ‘works’ and that they’ve actually broken their thumb. But others have pointed out that most people showing off their alleged broken thumb are just double-jointed.
Either way, we obviously do not advise anyone to try this challenge!
The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or CEOP.
First published: September 2017
Updated: May 2018