Online challenges on social media

New challenges occur regularly online, especially following social media trends. Their popularity among children is variable. Prevention comes through a frank and straightforward dialogue with children and youth, even among those who seem not to be interested. Challenges often unfold privately, in a teenager’s bedroom for example, away from adults.

Date 2021-06-08 Author Belgian Safer Internet Centre Section awareness Topic media literacy/education, potentially harmful content Audience children and young people, parents and carers

How can we raise awareness among teenagers about online challenges?

  • Keeping ourselves informed of online current events, trends and online challenges. Follow the news on Child Focus website or social media profiles. Ask the teenagers themselves. You will be able to talk about trends with them as experts.

  • Talking should allow to examine teenagers’ opinions. Talking can help prevent a possible decision to participate to be made.
  • The more vulnerable teenagers are, the more often they are attracted to those challenges. If a teenager wants to participate to a challenge, they will not want to talk about their fears and difficulties. The challenge is seen as a way to feel better. We have to help them seek for a more appropriate and safer remedy.
  • Showing interest or talking about a challenge does not mean the child will automatically participate in it. It is a frequent discussion topic among them. It must be addressed calmly and given proper attention.
  • Make sure the teenagers trust you. They must feel safe.  Clearly state that they won’t be punished. Everything they say, you will not repeat. You will not necessarily tell their parents.
  • A challenge can be an opportunity for them to grow. Remind them that any experimentation and evolution must be carried out in a safe environment.

Tips to immediately share with children and youth

Before starting a new challenge, here are five questions to ask yourself in order to make the right decision. 

  1. Will the challenge hurt me or somebody else?
  2. Is this challenge dangerous for me or somebody else?
  3. Do I feel any kind of pressure or obligation?
  4. Why do I want to do the challenge?
  5. If I do the challenge, will I be respectful towards myself and others?

Learn more about Safer Internet Day in Belgium. Alternatively, find out more about the work and initiatives of the Belgian Safer Internet Centre Child Focus, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe. On the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) platform, additional useful tools for parents, carers and teachers can be found in the resource repository and in the Guide to apps section.

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