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Dangerous online trends that affect your child
August 30, 2017, 4:34 pm
You might feel you are in control while denying your child access to video games with violence and indecent exposure and blocking channels with adult content, however the internet is constantly exposing impressionable teens on everything from cursing to death defying stunts. Here is some advice.

Trends and Challenges

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Recently, there has been an alarming number of deaths based on challenges made popular on social media. These challenges and games give kids a sense of thrill without them realising the dire consequences.

For example, the cinnamon challenge where one eats a spoonful of cinnamon without drinking water for 60 seconds, cinnamon can dry the mouth causing lungs to collapse or breathing difficulties.

The choking game also known as fainting game is a thrill where one strangulates the other causing deprivation of oxygen to the brain resulting in temporary unconsciousness and the high of feeling dizzy. Reported deaths have occurred due to this challenge. Others include the Gallon challenge, huffing and the five finger fillet which are life threatening and downright stupid.

Becoming a 'catfish'

A 'catfish' is someone who assumes another person's identity, while trying to lure people to interact with them through different social media platforms. The term became famous with an MTV Programme of the same name. Here the so called 'catfish' posts fake pictures and communicates with people under false pretences and information about themselves often forming intense relationships.

Your child could be a predator of the catfish or even be one themselves. Most 'catfish' who have been caught say they feel insecure about their true selves and assuming the identity of someone else makes them confident.

Following on social media

It is important to know who your child is following on platforms like Instagram, Twitter and others where they may stumble upon a celebrity owned or company social media that posts videos of skin treatments and enhancement procedures. This is sure to have an impact on your teen.

It gives them a false understanding of beauty standards and behavior that they need to emulate by watching celebrities like Snoop Dogg smoking up a storm, or Selena Gomez wearing skimpy clothing. This only lures your child into a negative and unrealistic sense of what life really is. Instead introduce your child to posts about fitness and sports, humour and entertainment or self-made women and athletes around the globe. Your child needs to know the difference between fake and real.

 Apps your child is downloading

Apps like Tinder which are mostly meant for adults looking to meet people can be easily manipulated where minors join this platform and meet strangers in their vicinity. Although age is verified your child could easily provide false information in an attempt to meet random people. Apps like Whisper allows anyone to post photos and information anonymously about another person without their knowledge.

This could result in serious cyber bullying with the aim to demean or target a specific individual. Although these apps do take measures to prevent any unfortunate instances and have disclaimers there is always a way around them. Snapchat allows your child to post short videos or pictures which are said to be immediately deleted if they have nudity or underage abuse, however it has been found that these videos are retrievable. Once the content is on the web always on the web. 

Online shopping

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Most teens today have access to money. They may have a pocket-money system or carry out odd jobs. So what happens when they find an imitation of something their favourite celebrity wore but are unable to afford it? They may resort to habits like stealing, borrowing money from friends or selling personal belongings to get what they want. You have to stop your child from shopping online if you find he or she has made purchases without your knowledge or is a compulsive shopper.

Let your child be able to come to you if they really like something. Instead of taking them shopping, let them choose what they want to buy. Online shopping can become a serious addiction where one is chasing materialistic fulfilment.

False advertising and scams

While adults can recognise a scam e-mail, teens may not. An easy Ponzi scheme is something a gullible teen may fall prey to, revealing important information like bank account details or home addresses. Help your child identify these scams. False advertising about products promoting weight-loss or clear 'fair' skin is targeted towards the vulnerable especially those looking for an easy fix. If you have a child with low self-esteem or being bullied due to appearance make sure to be alert they do not fall prey to such claims.

While as a parent of a growing adult there is limited control you can have over their activities, be involved and show concern when necessary. Most phones are locked with pass codes or fingerprint scans so snooping is not the right approach. Instead have an open and honest discussion with your child about the dangers lurking on the internet. Most importantly equip them with confidence and courage to make the right decisions.

Dangerous online games that drive self-harm

Many online ‘challenges’ have had parents worrying over the safety of their children. Some kids have even ended their lives because a game told them to. In those games, children are usually asked to complete certain steps, or give away private information. Some parents assume their children would never participate in something so dangerous, but it is more accessible than you think.

What you should look out for in short:

Cinnamon challenge
Five finger fillet
Gallon challenge
Blue whale challenge
Mariam’s game
Whisper App
Tinder App
Choking Game
Certain celebrity Instagram accounts
The Cutting Challenge
The Salt and Ice Challenge


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