Remember that scene from “The Christmas Story” when Ralphie’s friends challenge Flick to lick the flagpole? Flick got stuck, the class laughed and the prank was over.
These days, technology has elevated pranks and challenges to give them a much greater reach with longer-lasting effects. One such prank, the eraser challenge, has been around for several years, but, thanks to social media, it has recently seen a resurgence in popularity.
The “game” involves children rubbing a rubber eraser on the skin of their arm as they recite the “ABCs.” Whoever lasts the longest and induces the most grotesque wound wins.
Sounds like something out of a teen horror movie, but this challenge and many others are happening in schools across the country. Even worse, kids are taking videos of these stunts and putting them on YouTube and other social media platforms to gain internet fame through “likes.”
What is likely a cry for attention from kids needs the attention of their parents, not their peers.
If you suspect your child may be involved in a challenge like this, it is important to talk to them before they get seriously injured.
Here are some things to consider before you do.
Parents need to make sure they are up on all the latest pranks. Ever heard of the Salt & Ice Challenge? How about the Cinnamon Challenge? Duct Tape Challenge? Know your stuff, so you aren’t surprised.
2. Understand The Dangers
The eraser challenge has left at least one California teen hospitalized due to a major infection from a dirty eraser. Share these dangers with your kids. Give them the not-so-glamorous side of these “challenges.”
3. Watch Videos Together
Kids will be kids. Sometimes talking is not enough. So, if your teens are going to watch the videos, you may as well watch with them. Find out what makes these videos so enticing.
4. Encourage Them To Say “No”
Social media popularity can make it seem like everyone in the world is doing these challenges. But, in reality, it is often a handful of outliers that are getting lots of attention. Talk to your kids about these challenges the way you talk to them about drugs, alcohol and sex. Give them all the information so they can make healthy, informed choices.
5. Participate In A Safe Challenge
Speaking of healthy, there are plenty of challenges on the internet that are fun and harmless. Like Disney movies? Test your knowledge with the Disney challenge. Try the bottle flipping challenge. Or try putting on 100 layers of clothing at the same time. These challenges are silly and unlikely to induce pain or injury.
Better yet, encourage kids to get involved in activities that have nothing to do with technology and social media. The more time kids spend doing actual physical play, the less time they have to be posting videos of self harm. So get out there and start talking.