Viral Dares: Are they all hype or deadly?

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WOWK) — Have you ever participated in a viral challenge? Some of them are done for a good cause.

You might remember the Ice Bucket Challenge, which aimed to raise money to find a cure for ALS.

Some challenges serve a purpose, but others can be very troubling and drive kids to hurt themselves.

Challenges like the Momo Challenge give children a ‘to-do’ list before asking kids to seriously hurt themselves or even take their own lives.

“I think [viral challenges] are a concern, there’s a difference in fun and self-harm challenges,” said Amy Stamper, a counselor at St. Mary’s Medical Center. “[These challenges] get [children] to do small things, and then the challenges increase and increase, and [in] some of them, suicide is the final challenge.”
Stamper works with children and teenagers.

Sgt. Matt Null of the Huntington Police Department says no reports of children hurting themselves due to viral challenges have been filed in the area.

“We’re always worried about any way that somebody could exploit a child,” said Sgt. Null. “Primarily, it’s the oversharing of information.”

But warnings about potentially dangerous challenges, like the Tide Pod Challenge, make their way from the community to community by a simple share on Facebook or retweet on Twitter.

The question then remains; are these challenges spreading across the nation because of well-intentioned warnings from parents and different organizations?

Stamper doesn’t believe so.

“I don’t think we’re promoting it by discussing it,” she said. “When you’re educating children about things, I think there’s this fear that if we tell somebody something, they’re going to go and do it.”

Stamper says the big takeaway here is education.

“Awareness and understanding what’s going on is the key to stopping most things from happening.”

Therefore, Stamper and Sgt. Null believe parents should always play it safe by having these conversations with their children and teens, alike.

“Be involved and know what’s going on in the event that the next challenge may be something that would strike closer to our community,” said Sgt. Null.

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