Rumors of a new social media game called the “48-hour challenge” in which teenagers try to disappear from family for at least 48 hours has stirred outrage from parents and police departments alike.
The “48-hour challenge” involves teens running away from home and cutting off all contact from their family for two days before returning. Reportedly, as part of the game, a participant scores points for each social media post about them missing.
Parents Magazine denounced the social media challenge in a recent online article, calling the purported dare “beyond disturbing.”
“With so much tragedy in the world today, it's hard to believe kids would even want to participate in such a morbid undertaking, one that will put their loved ones through so much fear and pain. But they are,” wrote Hollee Actman Becker of Parents.
“Which is why you need to sit down and have a serious chat with them about this challenge now. Let them know that it's not OK to participate in something like this, and that doing so could put them—and others—in serious danger.”
Many in the United States and Europe have issued warnings about the social media challenge, demanding that teenagers refuse to participate.
For example, police in Missouri have warned that any teenager found to be performing the 48-hour challenge may face charges, according to kmov.com.
Officer Joe Silva of the Stockton Police Department in California stated last week that the challenge was “extremely dangerous” and might “take officers away from dealing with real emergencies.”
“Not only is effective communication important, parents should stay on top of their children’s social media usage,” stated Silva, as reported by recordnet.com.
“It’s a parent’s duty to know the platforms their children are on and monitor those accounts. Not only will they know what their children are posting or sharing, but just as important, they will be able to see what their kids are viewing.”
Some, however, among them the fact-checking website Snopes.com, have questioned the veracity of the claims that a 48-hour challenge is actually being played by teens.
Snopes said that claims about the “48-hour challenge” go back to October 2017 and added that the challenge appeared to derive from the 2015 “Game of 72” scare, a supposed social media challenge in which European teenagers were hiding from family for three days straight.
Snopes labeled the “48-hour challenge” and the “Game of 72” social media scares “false,” arguing that there was no confirmed evidence that any teenagers, let alone many, were taking part in either challenge.
“The growing encroachment of social media into every area of life hasn’t necessarily led to a rise in foolish teenage behavior, but it does seem to be fueling misguided parental ideas about how teenagers conspire to spend their free time,” noted Snopes.
“References to the challenge were made primarily by social media users and news sites, and we were again unable to find any examples of teen participation on the platforms via which they purportedly ‘dared’ each other to disappear.”