Have your say: Internet Crazes

When the Internet and social media turns a fad into a global craze


Momo HoaxWhen I was growing up, I remember countless fads and trends that came and went, either in the confines of school or within my group of friends at home. We could be trying to learn the latest cool trick with our ‘YoYos’, arming ourselves with plastic lemons full of water (our teachers hated that one!), skateboarding, scrambling on bicycles not built for the rough stuff and many more harmless activities that occupied us for a couple of months until the next big ‘thing’ came along.

It’s fair to say, and I think you’ll agree, that there was nothing particularly dangerous or sinister about our childhood fads (apart from those, maybe, that experimented with smoking or alcohol); however, in these days of social media, the historically innocent world of fads and crazes appears to have found a much darker and frankly disturbing format that worryingly some children appear to be compelled to follow.

In recent years, one of the most high-profile online crazes was the furore surrounding the Internet meme ‘Slenderman’ - a fictional supernatural character that was created on a horror Internet forum as part of a competition whereby users were asked to edit existing, everyday photographs to make them appear paranormal. The original poster submitted two black and white images of a group of children and added an abnormally tall and thin, phantom-like figure, in a black suit with no distinguishable facial features - this became known as the ‘Slenderman’. The whole phenomenon went viral on various social media, with a whole wealth of new photographs and stories appearing daily and it wasn’t long before claims were being made that the character was, in fact, real. In May 2014, however, two girls in Wisconsin took the phenomenon to a whole different, macabre level. When they allegedly took a twelve-year-old classmate to woods near their home and stabbed her 19 times, saying to the authorities later that they had attempted to commit a murder in order to become ‘proxies’ of the ‘Slenderman’ - their victim survived.

Another craze started out as a drinking game in Australia. The original idea of the game, which was given the title of ‘Neknominate’ or ‘Neck and Nominate’ was to ‘neck’ an alcoholic drink (usually a pint of beer) and then nominate others to do the same. When comments, images and videos of ‘Neknominate’ participants started to appear on social media platforms it again went quickly viral. The problems with these crazes come when the competitive spirit of some the potential participants takes hold and they consequently raise the level of the challenges. In the case of ‘Neknominate’, it was alleged that five people died as a consequence of the challenges - one participant fatally downed a pint of vodka, whilst another died after reportedly mixing an entire bottle of wine, a quarter bottle of whiskey and a can of lager and ‘necking’ the lot!

Thankfully, some good did come out of this irresponsible craze when a group of South Africans decided to turn it on its head and challenged others to carry out random acts of kindness for others - these also spread virally and picked up such titles as ‘Feed the Deed’ in Canada and ‘SmartNominate’ in France, which encouraged people taking part to give food to the homeless or donate blood.

Unfortunately, it would appear that the spread of crazy and downright dangerous pursuits over social media shows no signs of letting up. In May 2015, the Mail Online reported on a new, and in my opinion, staggeringly stupid, craze called the ‘Fire Challenge’, where young people filmed themselves pouring an inflammable liquid over their bodies and setting themselves alight. There were alleged cases where stunts went wrong and the participants were left badly burned with a 15-year-old in the USA reportedly burned to death when his entire body was engulfed in flames.

In more recent years we have faced other challenges from 'Am I pretty?', not a physically dangerous game but one which could destroy a teenage girls self-esteem, the 'Cinnamon Challenge' where participants tried to consume a spoonful of cinnamon powder', to the 'Blue Whale Challenge', which it has been suggested was a hoax, but nevertheless stories were found of young people taking their own lives as a result, to name just a few.

An now we face, quite literally, Momo. This challenge has taken over the media in recent days, with warnings from schools, police, charities and more about the dangers it creates. In brief, this is also known as the ‘suicide game’ played on WhatsApp. It begins with a disturbing face appearing (this image is actually taken from a sculpture by a Japanese artist). This character encourages young people to add contacts on the messaging service and then replies with threats of violence, and encourages self-harm and suicide. It is suggested that those responsible for ‘Momo’ are hackers looking for information. However, as with the Blue Whale Challenge, it seems that this too is a hoax, but it can still be causing distress to young people.

These days, social media provides a vehicle for fads and trends to spread virally throughout the global community like nothing else previously - even television cannot claim to have contributed to the proliferation of historical trends anywhere close to what the Internet can. The ubiquitous nature of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social platforms that can be accessed via desktop and mobile devices means that any potential phenomena can reach a huge audience very quickly.

But not all Internet crazes are bad. A positive example of how a craze can go viral occurred in the US, by way of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, where a person dumps or has dumped on by friends, a bucket of ice water over their heads to promote awareness of the disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and encourage donations to charities involved in research of the disease. In the UK, people took part in order to support the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

It is often a great experience when you feel part of a movement or phenomena, you can say to friends “yeah, I did that too!” You feel part of an exclusive club or community and if the common activity is a force for good like helping a charity or showing kindness then long may it continue, but when it comes fads or crazes that demand risky pursuits, I am reminded what my parents said whilst chastising me, as a child, when I had done something stupid following the lead of a so-called friend:

“If Joe Smith jumped off a cliff would you follow and jump off too?”


Have your say

Have you had experience of social media trends in your school? What is your school doing to tackle the issue? What positive outcomes have you seen from talking to pupils about this? Let us know your thoughts and suggestions using the comments section below.

Written by Steve Gresty on February 28, 2019 14:25

Childnet 2017 Film Competition Winners Announced

Young people’s internet safety films to be used as educational resources, as Childnet announce national winners of its 2017 Film Competition


Childnet Competition 2017 EventLeading online safety charity Childnet announced the winners of the eighth annual Childnet Film Competition at a private screening held for the competition finalists and industry guests at the British Film Institute on London’s Southbank.

Judged by a panel of experts from the BBC, BBFC and the BFI, the two winning schools and the four other finalists will now see their films used as internet safety resources to educate other young people about how to ‘Be the change’ and use the internet positively and safely.

The Childnet Film Competition was founded in 2010 to harness the positive role of peer-to-peer education and provide a creative and inclusive approach to empower and inspire young people aged 7-18 to use technology safely, positively and creatively.

Through the process the young people create valuable resources to educate their peers about staying safe online and develop their own understanding of what it means to be a good digital citizen.

Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet, said:
“The Childnet Film Competition is a great opportunity for young people to showcase their creative skills by creating engaging and educational videos to spread key online safety messages. The standard of entries this year has been exceptionally high and it’s clear to us that these young people are really passionate about making the internet a better place for all. All of the finalists’ films will be invaluable resources to help educate other young people about online safety.”

The competition invites schools and youth organisations from across the UK to capture their internet safety messages in a short film. This year, the film competition invited young people to think about how young people can come together and make a positive change online.

Childnet Education Projects Officer, Becky Nancarrow, said:
“This year’s Film Competition theme, ‘Be the change’, was all about inspiring young people to think about how they as young people can change the way that they use the internet for good. Today we not only saw the time and dedication that has gone into creating these films but the passion young people have for creating a better internet for everyone. It’s amazing that the young people’s films will continue to have an even wider impact, as they become resources for schools and youth groups to use”.

With over 127 entries from across the two categories; primary and secondary, entries ranged from animated films, to dramas about cyberbullying, to a news story about the positive uses of the internet. 6 schools attended the finalists’ event at the BFI in London before seeing their films on the big screen.

The films were judged by David Austin OBE Chief Executive at the BBFC, Catherine McAllister Head of Safeguarding and Child Protection BBC Children’s, and Joanna van der Meer Film Tutor and Family Learning Programmer at BFI Southbank.

The winners of this year’s Film Competition were St Michael in the Hamlet Primary School in the primary category with their film Be the Change: It starts with us. In the secondary category the winners were Dover College with their film Trouser Boy.

The winning films from the Childnet Film Competition can be viewed here: www.childnet.com/filmcompetition

Childnet Winners 2017

Quotes from the Film Competition 2017 finalists’ event

‘The film competition puts online safety into a practical setting, in school or at home children don’t always get it, but putting those messages into a film they get into it and understand it more because it’s encouraging them to do something for themselves; something that’s big, that other people will see, and something that’s fun.’ – Teacher

‘I think it’s a great way of teaching children how to be safe, because it’s also a fun way of being in a competition, so it’s competitive. Through the competition I learnt that even if you do something wrong you can always find a way to make it better’ - Young person, primary category winner

‘I think this competition is really good for teaching people about online safety, on top of that we had a lot of fun doing the video! It took us a few hours and overall the experience was really good for us, and today was just the highlight’ – Young person, secondary category winner

Written by Childnet International on July 13, 2017 09:38

Stop Cyberbullying Day – 16th June 2017

Support the cause in creating a diverse and inclusive Internet for all


SCD2017
With this year’s 'Stop Cyberbullying Day', there’s no better opportunity to teach your students about using the Internet respectfully and responsibly.

'Stop Cyberbullying Day' was founded by The Cybersmile Foundation on June 17th 2012, to promote online positivity and good digital citizenship. Since then, every year on the third Friday in June, 'Stop Cyberbullying Day' has become a growing force of positivity

The day brings together the entire global community in demonstrating our mutual commitment towards making the Internet a safer place for young people to enjoy. The aim is for all young people to have the freedom to use the Internet for learning, gaming and being social without the fear of threats or harassment.

The facts
Cyber bullying and online abuse can lead to social isolation, depression, eating disorders self-harm and suicide. Statistics from PEW Research and iSafe Foundation state that:

  • 40% of Internet users say they have personally experienced digital abuse
  • 20% of those who experienced online harassment said they feared for their lives
  • 50% of teens have been bullied online
  • How to get involved
    Whether you choose to be involved on the day itself or whether you choose to tackle cyber bullying all year round, there are a number of ways you can get involved.

  • Twitter - ask students to come up with advice they would give a victim of cyber bullying or come up with an anti-cyber bullying slogan and Tweet it to @CybersmileHQ using the hashtag #stopcyberbullyingday
  • Fundraise - hold a non-uniform day, tackle a sponsored challenge or hold a cyber bullying awareness event in your school
  • Become a Partner - join the Cybersmile Foundation, 'Stop Cyberbullying Day' campaign as an official school partner.
  • As part of our commitment in helping schools educate children about safer Internet usage we are pleased to offer you our cyber bullying assembly plan, which can be downloaded by both Free and Premium Plus E-safety Support members

    “'Stop Cyberbullying Day' has grown to become something very special. Engagement numbers each year are in the millions, yet the event is still in its relative infancy. Although Cybersmile will continue to coordinate 'Stop Cyberbullying Day', providing a designated platform for the event to continue to grow at its own speed makes complete sense.” – Dan Raisbeck, Co-Founder, The Cybersmile Foundation.

    SID2017 Ambassadors

    Written by Safeguarding Essentials on May 22, 2017 09:56


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