A new Facebook trend in Britain is encouraging teens to go missing for two days and parents are understandably starting to worry. Called the ’48-hour Challenge’, the basic idea is that a kid runs away from home for the titular amount of time, severing all contact and truly leading people to believe they have gone missing. Then, the teen re-emerges, leaving everyone to wonder why the hell they just did that. To make things worse, a new twist to the game lets kids earn extra points each time a friend, family member, or concerned citizen posts on Facebook or other social media about the fact that they’ve gone missing. Real fun stuff.
This dangerous and unbelievably thoughtless game has been widely criticized, especially by parents, who don’t find the idea of their kids making them think they’ve been kidnapped or worse very funny. In an interview with Belfast Live, one mother whose child participated in the challenge said, “This is a competition and it’s sick. The anxiety it left our family in is unspeakable.” She went on to explain that while her whole family was worried, her son showed no remorse for his actions and was even taking selfies in the police car after he was discovered.
Unfortunately, this is hardly the first time kids have been convinced to do potentially deadly things just for shits and giggles. This isn’t even the first time kids have gone missing for fun. The ‘Game of 72’ was a similar Facebook challenge that briefly became popular in Northern Europe. For that one, kids were supposed to be gone for 72 hours. Worst of all is the Blue Whale challenge, where the point of the game is literally for kids to commit suicide.
Of course, stories like these, unfortunately, make for sexy headlines so there is always a chance this is a less a phenomenon and more of a stupid thing one or two outlier kids did when they were bored. The Blue Whale challenge is widely believed to have been started as a hoax but increased media coverage gave it wider exposure. In any case, let’s hope no more kids take up the 48-hour Challenge. Can’t they just enjoy a hot wing challenge instead?