We have all heard about the social media “Challenges” and have seen the fund-raising benefits of challenging your friends to dump buckets of ice-cold water on themselves and similar antics. On social media, we have seen charities benefit from large sums of money raised as celebrities challenge each other and the public to participate in some unique and clever stunts all in the name of raising funds for good causes.
Unfortunately, we have also seen this trend evolve over time to some foolish and even dangerous challenges. Several of the challenges involve eating laundry detergent “Pods”, pouring boiling water on yourself or someone else, “car surfing”, sunburn art, hot pepper eating challenges and worse.
A new and potentially deadly challenge involves covering yourself in something flammable and setting yourself on fire. This particular challenge is drawing attention to the dangerous consequences of unsupervised access by young children to social media.
Young people are not equipped to process potential dangers like adults do. They do not have life experiences and wisdom that comes with maturity. They are ill-equipped to handle social pressures and problems which arise from access to social media trends. Parents, educators, and even law enforcement are now responding to the dangers and consequences of some of these social media challenges.
Firm attorney Charles E. “Chuck” Geary urges parents to get involved in the internet experiences of their children. Chuck recommends that we consider limiting social media access for young children to one computer located in a high traffic area in the home, such as the family room or kitchen area where adults are present. Talk to your kids about the differences between reality and digital stories.
Online safety discussions with children should encourage them to talk to you about things they see on social media and web sites. Discuss the unforeseen consequences of blindly following social trends and peer pressure. Spend time talking to children about avoiding questionable content and web sites.
Consider investing in child-safe web browsing protective programs and don’t forget about also protecting their cell phones. Teach your kids how to establish strong passwords but consider requesting (or requiring) them to share all passwords with you. Consider devices that limit the time spent on the internet and monitor and restrict internet activity. Help your kids set up privacy settings on their online activities like Facebook and teach them how to protect their personal identity like social security numbers, birthdates, and street addresses. Discuss cyberbullying with your kids. Show them examples of what this is and encourage them to talk to you about it if they experience it themselves.
Unfortunately, the recent news coverage is just the “tip of the iceberg” for injuries and death caused by social media challenges. Let’s keep our kids safe and secure as they navigate life and let’s encourage safe social media exposure!