As time goes on the social media has been affecting different aspects of peoples’ lives. Some are positive, others not so positive. The internet challenges have become popular nowadays especially for the young generation. Because it has become easier to post anything on any social media platform, young people would do anything just to get more attention as if they are celebrities.
Some challenges are safe to do, which even adults participate in. This has become more popular since the pandemic started and people are under lockdown. For example, #FliptheSwitch where people swap clothes and poses when lights are switched off and then on and the #BinIsolationOuting where people dress as superheroes or Disney characters while throwing out their trash. These have helped them to be active and not get bored at home.
However there are other challenges that are dangerous to the extent of being life threatening. This is especially common among teens who act before thinking. Not only that but it can also be due to peer pressure. They may want to prove themselves that they can be daring. Unfortunately such impulsive behaviour has terrified many parents.
Newsweek had published an article on this issue stating, “Attempting to grasp the motives behind the reckless stupidity of teenagers has been a frustrating endeavor for parents since the beginning of time, and many experts believe the internet has made it even worse. In the good old days, parents typically felt they could maintain control over their misbehaving teen simply by limiting the time spent with peers who were a “bad influence.” But thanks to social media, persuasive people with dumb ideas are now omnipresent and a mere click, tap or swipe away. Add in the appeal of 30 seconds of fame, and some teens are willing to try just about anything. In many cases, the more dangerous it is, the better.”
Why are teens more susceptible? It’s because the prefontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for rational thinking is still underdeveloped until the mid-20s. This makes them to be impulsive. For instance, there was a 48 hours missing challenge for which teenagers encourage each other to go missing for 48 hours and then watch the social media for any missing report. This is dangerous in every way because the parents and school management would be panicked. They can also involve the police to look for the child. And where would the teenager hide? Would the teenager be safe or be in danger, nobody would know.
There was also the Benadryl challenge in which people were told to take large doses of the drug Benadryl to cause hallucinations. Benadryl is also known as diphenhydramine which is used for treatment of allergies, fever and common cold. But misuse of drugs can cause heart problems, seizures and even death.
Recently a ten year old girl, Antonella in Italy died from asphyxiation after trying to do the blackout challenge on TikTok. According to the challenge the girl had put a belt around her neck and stayed like that without breathing as long as possible while recording the moment. It was her five year old sister who found her unconscious and though her parents rushed to the hospital, she didn’t survive. It was another of Antonella’s sister who explained what had happened which devastated the whole family.
“My daughter, my little Antonella, who dies because of an extreme game on TikTok; how can I accept it,” said Angelo Sicomero, the girl’s father.
An investigation has been opened to research the case on what made her to participate in it. Like Antonella, there must be other teens who take extreme risks just to get publicity. What can parents do to help their children? They can talk and discuss issues with their children. Make the children more open minded. Parents can even be “friends” with their children on social media to monitor what is being posted. They can even discuss with other parents and teachers about ways to help the children to know what’s the right and what’s the wrong thing to do.
Also owners of the social media platforms should monitor what people are posting. If such things are being posted which can prove dangerous and fatal then they should be banned completely.