If you haven’t heard, the newest challenge trending with pre-teens and teens is the 48 Hour Challenge, where children fake their own abduction to see how much attention they can get. They judge each other by how many shares and likes their missing posts receive on social media. The danger in this particular challenge is that children are putting themselves at risk to actually be missing. Child sex trafficking is in every state and it is big business bringing in $32 billion every year. According to Arc of Hope for Children, “Up to 300,000 Americans under 18 are lured into the commercial sex trade every year.” Children who participate in the 48-hour challenge could easily find themselves evoking a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This new challenge is based on the need for attention, positive or negative, and the desire to be wanted and accepted. How do parents keep their children from participating in these absurd challenges that often pop up on the Internet and seem extremely Darwinism, where only the strongest survive and all others perish? We have some strategies that might help you circumvent the peer pressure power your child will feel to participate in the latest social media challenges.
- Talk to your child on a daily basis, one-on-one. Let them know that you trust them and that you are there to help guide them to be as successful as possible based on their leads. For example, if your child wants to be a scientist, you’re going to nurture that by taking them to the science museum on free admissions day, or you will show them home experiments they can do with peroxide and baking soda. You will even find role models, search their bio on Linkedin and help your child to make a road map to their own career-success based on that role model’s resume. We are nurturing guidance counselors for our children.
- Have a parent & child day. Do this with each one of your children where you spend time alone doing an activity together outside of the house, each week or at least once a month. It can be a picnic, going to the zoo, going to see a movie together, or helping your child to write a book, draw it, and then bind it and publish it at your local office supply store, like Staples or Office Depot that offers printing service. Have a Black history day, each week and create a book from what you both learned.
- Remind your child that you love them daily. Tell them every day how much you love them and that you’re thankful that you were chosen to be their parent. Tell them that you don’t know what you would do without them and that they make you happy. Let them know that you appreciate them, even though they can sometimes be hard to love — you can’t stop loving them. When they act up, you may not like them for a minute, but you still love them no matter what. It’s important for them to hear this confirmation regularly and don’t assume that your child already knows it.
- Teach your child not to be a follower but to be a leader. Not everyone is chosen to lead but there are those that are. They should aim to lead whenever they can and to lead righteously. If they are going to follow, then follow the smartest student in the class instead of the most popular or funniest student. They can be entertained by the later but don’t be fooled into following them. Study great African American leaders together and know what they stood for. The old adage, “If everyone was jumping off of a bridge, would you jump too?” — and no bungee available — is still relevant to say with your children.