Tip of the Week

Risky Business: YouTube Challenges and Other Online Hazards

Kids say—and do—the darndest things. But when one of those things is setting themselves on fire for a YouTube video, we've got real trouble on our hands. So what exactly are kids doing, and how do we keep them safe?

As YouTube challenges go viral—like the scary, yet overblown, Momo internet hoax—parents will sometimes hear about them, but often we have no clue: From dumping ice water on our heads, to posing to a song, to jumping out of cars, these challenges run the gamut between silly and safe to downright dangerous. But viral challenges aren't the only risks kids take. Posting or sending racy pictures and using apps to meet strangers are other ways kids push the limits. And while traditional cigarette smoking is less popular, Juuls and vaping are huge trends. While it's developmentally appropriate for tweens and teens to explore, take risks, and make mistakes, we still need to start conversations when our children are young then stay involved in their digital lives to prevent the lapses in judgement that can have very serious consequences. Talking to your child about potentially risky choices and helping them think through the possible consequences might help them pause before putting themselves in harm's way.