The real challenge online is keeping people safe

The real challenge online is keeping people safe

The concept of “do not try this at home” has discovered a new meaning thanks to viral challenges that have taken the internet by storm.  A category of entertainment in which one action goes viral and millions of people recreate it with the sole purpose of obtaining views. 

The leading social platform housing the majority of these challenges is TikTok, a video sharing social networking app where users can create, edit, and propel their work for the public to see. 

Since the start of social media, numerous challenges have taken the web by storm, all resulting in unique sets of consequences.  Currently, the skull-breaker challenge and the penny challenge are circulating TikTok encouraging dangerous behaviors.

Skull Breaker Challenge 

The phrase itself, “skull-breaker” doesn’t exactly ignite positive emotions, and not surprisingly, the same goes for this incredibly dangerous internet trend. This challenge begins with three people standing side-by-side with the idea that they are all going to jump into the air at once. Little does the middle man know, they’ll be the only one jumping while their friends alongside them knock their legs out from under them. If you can’t catch your landing, down you go. 

The dangers of this latest internet craze have already landed numerous children and teens into the hospital. In the past month, hospitalizations have spanned the country, from Arkansas, New Jersey and Iowa.  

Doctors warn the dangers of these activities could include skull and neck fractures, brain bleeding, bruising, concussions, broken limbs, paralysis, and even death. 

Penny Challenge 

Up until this year, when you heard of a penny challenge it was referring to a way to save up for extra money. Now,  the expression penny challenge is attributed to an incredibly dangerous online challenge.  When sparks and fire are involved, we can’t see anything good coming.  

This latest (and truly ridiculous) fad requires participants to plug in the power adaptor of a phone charger approximately three-fourths of the way into the wall.  The next step is to slide a penny down the wall so it lands on the prongs of the adaptor. As kids, we are taught to not stick items into an outlet.  This is calling our children to do just the opposite.

The circuit breakers trip as a reaction to the copper in the penny causing sparks to fly. Not only are participants of this challenge at risk for burns, but if the circuit does not trip, the power can go out in part of or all of the house, or the wires can heat upsetting the home ablaze.  

What does Tik Tok think of this?

As more and more injuries are being reported as a result of these alarming challenges a spokesperson has given a statement on TikTok’s involvement....

“The safety and well-being of our users is a top priority at TikTok. As we make clear in our Community Guidelines, we do not allow content that encourages, promotes, or glorifies dangerous challenges that might lead to injury, and we remove reported behavior or activity that violates our guidelines. To help keep our platform safe, we have introduced a slate of safety features geared toward enhancing our users’ experience, including tools for reporting inappropriate content and for managing privacy settings.” 

What does SGS think of this?

Measures need to be taken so that children are staying on-brand online and remaining safe in the process. There are numerous tips to have your children steer clear of creating potentially fatal content.

  1. Educate yourself- Being proactive and learning about prominent social media activities as they begin. This grants you the opportunity to get ahead of the curve and figure out which ones could be harmful. 
  2. Educate your child- Using the knowledge you have learned, pass it along to your children.  We do not look at this as creating more opportunities for youth to engage in these kinds of activities but rather as teachable moments with your children before their curiosity gets the best of them.  Discuss online challenges and the consequences that could come as a result.  
  3. Monitoring- Keep a close eye on your child’s activity online. This way you will be in the know if your child is planning on attempting a challenge or already has. Putting parental restrictions on apps that allow it, such as youtube, can act as a preventive measure. 

This information does not guarantee online safety and is provided as a courtesy of Smart Gen Society.  SGS is not legally responsible for your family's digital planning or safety.