Internet full of positive, negative challenges


By Carol O’Brien - Contributing Columnist

From the “Ice Bucket Challenge” to the “In My Feelings Challenge,” the internet has spurred and spread challenges of all kinds.

The “Ice Bucket Challenge” is positive. Participants dump ice water on willing partners in an effort to raise money for ALS. So far, it’s raised over $115 million to help find a cure.

Other challenges are not so great. The “In My Feelings” or “Kiki Challenge” involves folks jumping out of moving vehicles and dancing to a Drake song, all while the vehicle continues to move. This one has no goal other than ending up with an entertaining video. Sounds like fun, right? Well, the line between fun and common sense can sometimes blur with internet challenges.

The “Kiki Challenge” has resulted in many injuries from falls. One participant was even hit by a vehicle driving in the opposite lane. The challenge is so wide spread and dangerous, police agencies all over the world have warned folks to stop participating. It seems odd that anyone would think jumping out of a moving vehicle to dance would be a good idea, but then again, the internet is full of questionable material.

From dangerous to goofy … there are a lot of challenges that are just plain silly, without the risk of injury. The “Mannequin Challenge” was the craze back in 2016. This is where a group of people get together and freeze in various poses while someone records the scene as music plays. The best thing about this challenge is that it’s all in good fun, and the chance for injury is minimal or nonexistent. Even the OSU football team participated, a performance searchable by googling OSU football “Mannequin Challenge.”

A more recent challenge has become one of my favorites. It’s the law enforcement “Lip Sync Challenge,” where agencies around the world lip sync and dance to various songs. It’s been enjoyable to watch various agencies show a different face to the public. While most videos have been light-hearted, there are two in particular I recommend searching if you haven’t yet seen them. First, the Geneva on the Lake Police Department used its video to honor Ohio officers killed in the line of duty. And second, the Pickens County, Georgia Sheriff’s Office, who used its platform to highlight the issue of domestic violence.

All the aforementioned videos have been, at the very least, interesting, even if just to serve as a reminder to be safe. At most, they’re entertaining, even informative. There is a dark side though, that must be addressed. The truth is some challenges just shouldn’t be. They’re scary. They’re more than dangerous. They’re suggestive and predatory, and they’re out there for your children to see.

Several years ago, the “Blue Whale Challenge” sparked widespread concern when it was revealed to be assigning players tasks — 50 daily challenges to be specific. These tasks largely involved self-mutilation and ended with suicide. According to the Washington Post, this challenge was associated with at least 130 deaths in Russia, the country from which many believed it originated.

A more recent challenge called the “Momo Challenge” is at the center of a debate, a question as to if it’s real or not. What we know for sure is it’s been referenced on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Momo sends the user threats and instructs them to perform a series of dangerous tasks. Regardless of whether it’s real or an urban myth, technology experts say it serves as an important reminder for parents to be aware of what their children are consuming on social media. I know it’s been said before, but please be diligent on checking in on what your children are accessing on the internet.

Technology can be dangerous territory for young people. From online bullying to unsolicited messages in chat rooms, and even challenges that might seem fun (at least at the start), the danger is there, and our children use technology every day. That’s why it is so important to not only educate your children, but give yourself permission to check their online activity. No matter the age of your child, check on them regularly and often, and do it unapologetically. It is far better to be safe than sorry.

On a lighter note, I did see a meme recently that made me chuckle. It was a “challenge” for teens to do their laundry. No doubt this meme was created by a parent. If I had to offer a challenge, I might say to go out of your way to do something kind or get involved in the community. Many folks will come together on Sept. 9 during the All Horse Parade. It’s not exactly a challenge, but it sure is fun. I hope to see a lot of friends and neighbors not only there, but also at the Delaware County Fair, which starts Sept. 15. Come see me! I’ll be in the Merchants Building.

By Carol O’Brien

Contributing Columnist

Carol O’Brien is Delaware County Prosecutor.

Carol O’Brien is Delaware County Prosecutor.