The surge of recent “challenges” has me feeling some type of way. These challenges have been on my mind for months and I wanted to write about it. But, then the ice challenge surfaced and celebrities, parents, teachers, officers, clergy members, and the President of the United States began to take part in the challenge. So, I was hesitant. However, after much thought, I decided that I needed to write this- I must write this. As a mom and a teen advocate, I cannot allow the negative effect on our youth by some of these challenges to be ignored.
These social media challenges are supposed to bring awareness and financial support to worthy causes. I thought that these challenges would disappear as quickly as they appeared, but I was wrong, and they continue to go viral on social networks. In the beginning, I was not as bothered by these challenges but then they became dangerous, especially to our youth. As a result, I joined in. I did not take a challenge, nor was I challenged. However, I did create a challenge. I imagined, that since those other challenges could make a huge social network following that my practical challenge would too. So, in my own humorous way, I posted a “Pull Your Pants Up” challenge. This style which will not seem to go away continues to show a sign of disrespect and lack of care for self and others. A trend that originated in the penal system, it seems to stick around especially with our children. My challenge did not go viral but it did receive a few likes and comments. Go figure.
It was a national news report about the “fire challenge” that really got me fired up (no pun intended). This challenge dared individuals to set themselves on fire. The most disturbing thing about this challenge is that some parents encouraged their child to accept the challenge. I ultimately went on a social media rant, posting:
How many parents have talked to their children about these FB challenges? How many have encouraged their children to lead and not follow? How many have taught that old school lesson if Johnny jumps off the bridge are you going to jump to? Parents Teach values and morals and break the cycle of ignorance.”
This rant received many likes and a couple of comments. Some other adults were concerned as well. Then the “pass out” (or “the choking game”) challenge surfaced. These challenge videos mostly show young boys and girls forcing themselves in a state of unconsciousness which cause them to literally pass out. In both of these challenges young people have been physically hurt. This does not take away from the “ice challenge” where there have been reports of some adults being harmed. But even more disappointing is the “salt and ice” challenge, which hit close to home when my young family member participated in this challenge. I was not there when it occurred, but I was made aware of it after it happened. I spoke directly with my family member about the dangers of the challenge and following the crowd. I believe I made a difference.
Our youth are at an impressionable age. Some youth who watch challenge uploads on social media fail to separate a fun, non-harmful fund raising act from one that can be unhealthy and harmful to their future. They put little thought into the action or consequence. Although, popular individuals have not endorsed the fire, pass out, nor salt and ice challenge. In some youth minds, they see their idol endorsing challenges and they want to jump in to. Many of the youth with hopes of being discovered with a video that would go viral, to be part of the in-crowd, to post the video and get a few likes or comments, or to just accept the challenge. Whatever, the reason these challenges are doing more harm than good to our youth. It is easy to point the blame at the decision maker who participates in the challenge, but young minds don’t always think things through. Or they equate one challenge with another and believe that it is okay to participate. We have to do better at protecting and educating our youth. Most importantly, parents must intervene in their child’s social life and discuss the negativity that may arise.
In every good thing someone can make it have a negative effect. But, if the adverse effect is not acknowledged it can become an epidemic furthering causing harm. For those who say the challenges are in good fun and raising awareness and money for a cause, I challenge them to re-read this blog paying special attention to the negative effect on our youth. And for those who say that I need to “get out of my feelings” and “stop feeling some type of way,” I propose another challenge. I challenge our youth to think, plan, and act. On this note, I address the youth.
Young people I challenge you to “think past the moment.” Think about how you dress. Think about how you behave. Think about your choice of friends. Think about your future. Think about the consequences of your action or lack of action. Will it hurt you or someone else? Will it benefit you in any way? Will it help somebody else? Will it delay you in reaching your goals? If it will not encourage, uplift, or put you closer to your goal then reconsider. Avoid actions that will bring negative results. After you have thought it through plan your next move. Which school organizations can help you reach your potential? How can you be a part of that organization? What Grade Point Average do you need to be accepted to the school of your choice? Who will write your recommendations? Act out your plan. Study hard. Research the best methods to reach your career goals. Stay on task. Choose your friends wisely. Engage in healthy relationships. Give your best effort. Pray often. Push yourself to achieve more. What you do today effects your tomorrow. You are our future and without you we have no future. Do you accept the challenge?