When a viral challenge is reported in the news or on social media, it can be difficult to establish the facts, risks and what you need to do to protect the young people in your care.  

 If you’re a parent or carer who’s seen reports of an online challenge, the first thing to do is pause. This article will explain what you need to know and give you 5 ways you can respond. The good news is that most online challenges will burn out and lose popularity.  

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What is an Online Challenge?

Online Viral Challenges are best understood as online trends, where people take part in or mimic games, activities, skits or dares. They can originate on apps such as TikTok, YouTube or Instagram before spreading to other platforms. 

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Knowing how to respond to an online challenge is important for supporting children and young people to stay safe online.  

Use our top tips below to help guide your response:  

5 Ways you can respond to Online Challenges

  • Sometimes we can indirectly drive attention to challenges by talking about them, so it’s best to get around this by not naming the challenge directly or showing the content when talking to children and young people. Instead, followour advice; Pause (be calm and stay calm), Think (prepare by fact checking) and Plan (choose the right time and place to talk) – find out more in the video below. 

  • Online culture and viral challenges can be confusing. To learn about the types of challenges and how they become viral, check out our Online Challenges Video. 

  • Peer pressure can impact young people’s behaviour online, where they might feel intense pressure to participate in challenges. Make sure you talk about examples of what positive social media use looks like and how they can recognise peer pressure Use our Trusted Adult Resources to teach young people about the importance of seeking help if something worries or upsets them.  

  • Talk to the children and young people in your care about how they can block and report content or behaviour that upsets or worries them. Use our Online Safety Centre to figure out safety settings together.   

  • Parents, Carers and Safeguarding professionals often talk about the support they receive from other adults on addressing online harms to children. Make sure you share this article to support your friends and colleagues.  

Join our Safeguarding Hub Newsletter Network

Members of our network receive weekly updates on the trends, risks and threats to children and young people online.

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Pause, Think and Plan

Guidance on how to talk to the children in your care about online risks.

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