Educate kids on the dangers of silly challenges

The Tide Pod Challenge is the latest viral social media phenomenon.

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Published: Mon 22 Jan 2018, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Mon 22 Jan 2018, 9:05 PM

They are colourful, smell good and look like candy. Yes, they can be attractive to very young children who are not supposed to be on social media. But we fail to understand what makes young adults fall for such foolish and dangerous challenges. The Tide Pod Challenge is the latest viral social media phenomenon and any person in his or her right sense should know that these pods contain highly concentrated toxic detergent which can harm the body. The exact origin of the challenge is debatable, but the fact remains that the practice of biting into these pods has intensified, prompting a wave of warnings and news coverage this month. So, what is it that makes a 13, 14 or 17-year-old young adult, who claims to be well-informed of the good and bad aspects of social media, fall for such dangerous gimmicks? Are they dense? This is not the first of such challenges. There have been many more like the bath-salt challenge and the cinnamon challenge where youngsters have dared each other. Online pranksters and daredevils could mess around with detergents, salt, ice and fire. But, it's time the spread of such deadly trends is condemned and curtailed.
If children cannot differentiate between the good and the bad, schools and parents should intervene. Watch out for signs. Find time to talk to them. In this era of devices, screens and social media, it's important to communicate from an early age. Children should be made aware of peer pressure and taught to say 'no'. And they should be secure in the feeling that they have their parents to talk to, come what may. The onus also lies on online companies that operate these public spaces. They should be responsible and at the same time accountable for the content published. They could also do a better job at policing compliance with age restrictions and removing objectionable material at the earliest. No doubt, social media is fun, it can help foster relationships, and stimulate creativity. But such platforms should be made friendlier, safer and healthier for all.

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