Viral Online Challenges


Type of Resource


Publication Date

June 22, 2023


Harmful or inappropriate content  

When a viral challenge is reported in the news or on social media, it can be difficult to establish the facts, risks and what you need to do to protect the young people in your care.

If you’re a parent or carer who’s seen reports of an online challenge, the first thing to do is pause. The good news is that most online challenges will burn out and lose popularity.

What is an Online Challenge?

Online Viral Challenges are best understood as online trends, where people take part in or mimic games, activities, skits or dares. They can originate on apps such as TikTok, YouTube or Instagram before spreading to other platforms. Knowing how to respond to an online challenge is important for supporting children and young people with staying safe online.

Use our top tips to help guide your response:

  • Sometimes we can indirectly drive attention to challenges by talking about them, so it’s best to get around this by not naming the challenge directly or showing the content when talking to children and young people. Instead, follow our advice; Pause (be calm and stay calm), Think (prepare by fact checking) and Plan (choose the right time and place to talk) – find out more in the video below.
  • Online culture and viral challenges can often be found using a particular hashtag. Unfortunately, when dangerous challenges have their hashtag and content removed by a platform, users find a way around this by inventing similar but different hashtags. For example, #chokechallenge may become #chkechallnge.
  • Peer pressure can impact young people’s behaviour online, where they might feel intense pressure to participate in challenges. Make sure you talk about examples of what positive social media use looks like and how they can recognise peer pressure. Use our Trusted Adult Resources to teach young people about the importance of seeking help if something worries or upsets them.
  • Talk to the children and young people in your care about how they can block and report content or behaviour that upsets or worries them. Use our Online Safety Centre to figure out safety settings together.

Welcome to the Online Safety Hub

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If you are under 18, click the blue button below to visit the Online Safety Hub micro-site for children and young people.