There has been an increase of students participating in social media challenges on school campuses. To put it in simple terms, challenges are any idea that goes viral. They can be songs, activities, or dances that start trending and then get copied by users on social media platforms. Sometimes they're spontaneous, but sometimes they're planned out by brands, musical artists, or influencers for marketing purposes. Most popular challenges are harmless, while others cause dangers to self, others, or property. It is important to remind students that they should not participate in any challenge can cause harm to self or others (including property). Families are encouraged to talk with their students about the risk of social media challenges and potential school consequences for participating in social media challenges. The following are some helpful tips for families/caregivers:Talk about it. Though we can't always be with our tweens and teens to prevent dangerous behavior, our words really can stay with them. Say, "If you ever want to do an internet challenge, check with me first."
Get them to think. Help your kid think through the challenges and whether they're safe or have potential risks. Say, "Walk through each step and figure out where things could go wrong."
Acknowledge peer pressure. Today's kids think of internet personalities as their peers, so seeing kids and other "influencers" on social media doing a challenge could influence your kid. Say, "Why do you want to do this? Is this a video of yourself that you really want out in the world?"
Stay (somewhat) up to date. Ask your kid about what's happening in their lives when they're not distracted -- even when it seems like they don't want you to. Sometimes kids are more willing to talk about what's going on with other kids than with themselves, so pose questions about friends, school, and trends. Once the conversation is open, you can get a sense of what your kid thinks about the latest craze -- and if they're safe. Keep an open mind and intervene if you're concerned. Say, "Would you consider doing a viral stunt if someone asked you? Which ones would you do and not do?"
Model responsible online habits. Some parents are the ones recording their kids taking these challenges, so make sure your involvement sends the message you intend. Today it might be harmless, but tomorrow it might be more dangerous. Help your kids make the distinction so they can stay safe. Say, "Let's do a funny challenge together, but we'll only film it if you want to, and we'll only share it with family."
To learn more about what kids are seeing on YouTube and how the rise of online video has impacted kids' screen time, check out the 2020 Common Sense Census: Media Use by Kids Zero to Eight.Resources for families to support safe media use:Share these family conversation starters to help your students and their families talk meaningfully about their digital lives. These resources are aligned to our District aligned SEL competencies of self-awareness, self-
management, responsible decision making, relationship skills, and social awareness.K–2 Packet: English | Spanish
3–5 Packet: English | Spanish
6–8 Packet: English | Spanish
9–12 Packet: English | SpanishIn addition to a note home to families, the following is specific to teachers and school staff.This link, Digital Citizenship, includes CASEL-aligned quick SEL lessons to encourage safe media use. Activities are designed by topic/grade-level, and take about 20 minutes to implement. Please have school leaders encourage teachers to use these lessons as preventative measures in the classroom.