CHARLOTTE, N.C (WKYC/WRBL) – A challenge circulating on social media is encouraging children to go missing on their own.
It’s called the 48-Hour Challenge. Kids disappear, and to complete the challenge, they stay hidden for 48 hours. The talk of this actually happening has law enforcement concerned.
“When we talk about anybody going missing, it’s very dangerous, and we immediately send out a ton of resources because every second counts. To find out a person was hiding, is a big issue,” said Officer Johnathan Frisk with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Crime Prevention.
Earlier this week, NBC Charlotte covered the frantic search for 13-year-old Diana Clawson. Detectives were on the hunt, and neighbors created a search team.
About 24 hours later, Diana was found. In fact, she was never actually missing. The teen was hiding under her bed, surrounded by shoes.
Searchers on the scene told our reporter they thought she was participating in the 48-Hour Challenge. Posts and comments on Facebook about the possible connection blew up.
However, the teen’s mother, Tanya, told NBC Charlotte that speculation is hurtful, and her daughter was not participating in the challenge.
Child psychologist Polly Dunn who says the worst thing a parent can do is assume their kids know better.
“I think the Facebook challenges are pretty scary, as a parent when you see those challenges you worry is my child going to do something like that and do they know right from wrong,” said Dunn.
Dunn is a mother of four who finds herself continually educating her children on the dangers of social media including the challenges.
“Recently I have heard about the ’48-hour challenge’ where people are supposed to go missing for 48-hours. I have certainly seen the ‘Bird Box challenge,’ videos of people doing things blindfolded and the ‘Tide Pod challenge’ something from one or two years ago that was very scary,” said Dunn.
Dunn says the worst thing parents can do is assume their kids are too smart to participate.
“You definitely don’t want to ignore it because sometimes what we think our children know is not actually what they know. I think talking openly and honestly about the challenges and the dangers especially with younger children and more impressionable children is the best policy,” suggested Dunn.
Dunn says on top of constant communication parents need to be on top of social media. Parents have to be active on all platforms and not just Facebook.
“Children see it on other sites, like Snap Chat, Instagram, Tic Toc, there are so many platforms out there. Parents need to open accounts and follow their children. You will know what they are posting and sharing. Also, you have a window into what is being shown to them on that particular platform,” said Dunn.
Dunn believes banning kids from using social media is unrealistic. She says using social media is another safety skill parents have to teach, much like driving. She suggests allowing age-appropriate activity with strict parental oversight. Parents, you should have their passwords, be able to take their phone at anytime a look through it and be linked into their accounts from your phones.
“I think it’s important to know as a kid it’s not a right to have an Instagram account, it’s a privilege. If we grant that privilege in our house, some rules come with it, and the first one is I have all access to it,” said Dunn.
There is a way to be able to track your child if he or she does vanish. If they have a smartphone, make sure their location finder is turned on. The function will help searchers find them faster.