When you think of a social media challenge, the first things that come to mind for you would typically span from “how do I get more followers on Instagram” to “how do I make my browsing history private on LinkedIn”.
For the youth of today, social media has become a inter-connected and hyperspeed medium to play truth-or-dare. With a huge emphasis on dares and an audience of millions to encourage and egg these disillusioned children on, the stakes can be high.
Challenge #1: Pro-Ana + Thinspo
Blogs that sensationalize being unhealthily skinny started popping up about 10 years ago, but just because it is not as highly-publicized as it previously was, does not mean that this is going away.
Teens that use these search terms will often go to extreme lengths to avoid eating. They crave the attention that their thin role-models receive based on their size and will attempt to emulate the look
Here is a story from a brave survivor that was addicted to pro-ana websites.
Challenge #2: Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge
When Kylie Jenner finally admitted that she uses temporary lip-injections, after years of denial, noone was surprised.
Her lips literally ballooned from year-to-year and she simply responded that she had begun doing her makeup differently.
But the biggest shock was not that a celebrity socialite was getting physical enhancements, it was the outbreak of girls trying to emulate her full-lipped pout and going about it in a seriously dangerous way.
People all over the world have been suctioning off their lips with a glass jar or cup and sucking all of the air out of it. When they remove the glass, their lips have been enlarged dramatically. This is quickly followed by posting the results on their social media channels with the hashtag #KylieJennerLipChallenge. One google search and you’ll find that the results are NOT pretty.
Common side effects are bruising around the mouth, there has even been reports of permanent damage to the face and glasses exploding on people.
All for what, to share with their friends what they did the evening before?
Challenge #3: The Eraser Challenge
This is a challenge where student-age children will erase their skin harshly until they cause themselves to physically begin to bleed.
They will run an eraser over their arms or hands reciting the alphabet to see how far they can get. The process is recorded and shared over youtube or other social media channels to show their friends and people all over the world.
So how do we tear away from this glamorization of self-harm? The fact that youth are willing to physically maim themselves for a few likes on youtube or facebook is frightening. These people are our future.
Stop equating success with likes, and pass that on to the next generation
We ourselves have to step out of the habit of equating worth with likes or follows. We then have to encourage feelings of self-worth from within, rather than from external sources, sometimes with potentially negative motivations.
Acknowledge accomplishments rather than physical appearances
When I meet a small girl on the street, I am very careful about my choice of words when speaking to her. If I give recognition, I first try to make it reflective of something she is doing or saying, rather than simply on her physical appearance, or how others perceive her.
Calling girls pretty and cute from the time they are young, molds them to think that they is all that they should strive to attain in life. We offer these compliments as terms of endearment, but we fail to comprehend the psychological impact that these phrases can have on their futures.
We all get caught up in it. But we need to give encouragement out for children who are making a difference, being a kind person or being level headed.
If we continue to engage our youth to seek recognition from the wrong sources, especially online, we leave their potential role models up to chance, or challenge.