As we wrap up the 2016-17 school year, we want to thank all EGUSD school sites for implementing digital citizenship through lessons, parent nights, assemblies and on campus initiatives. With students heading into summer vacation, their well being and safety remains a priority. Vacation brings with it the reality of more screen time for our youth and the need to be able to deal with the accompanying challenges.

students using cell phone for photo

Common Sense Media recently published an article 12 YouTube Challenges Your Kid Will Trywritten by CSM’s Senior Editor of Parent Education, Christine Elgersma. Her article helps parents maneuver through the latest YouTube challenges broken out into four easy-to-understand categories: Funny Challenges, Food Challenges, Physical Challenges, and Frightening Challenges, followed by tips on what parents can do:

  • 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 on YouTube 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.”

Probably of all the challenges aimed at youth, The Blue Whale Challenge has received the most media coverage with little available evidence to back up consequences and statistics referenced. Anne Collier, from, explores misinformation/”fake news,” but also points out the concern for vulnerable youth, as does Common Sense Media “The biggest concern is teens who are at risk and may be susceptible to trends and media about suicide, because even if the challenge began as an isolated incident or hoax, it could become real.”

As you read through the list of challenges, keep in mind the importance of two-way communication and conversation with your children. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the social media apps your children are using. While there will always be new apps and internet challenges, the role of the parent remains essential – stay alert and engaged.