Our fall favorites are here! 🍂

Let’s face it, the social media world is scary. Especially for parents. We try to protect our children from on-line predators and bullies. We try to educate them about using apps on their phone and appropriate rules for interacting with others. Sometimes we focus so much on them that we forget we must also educate ourselves. Then there are times where we lose focus and forget that our children don’t just need rules and lectures, they need us.

Enter social media challenges. You probably remember some harmless challenges, like the Mannequin Challenge, or the Harlem Shake. Plus, there are awareness-raising challenges, like the 22 Push-Ups (soldier suicide) or the Ice Bucket Challenge (ALS).

Do you also recall the Cinnamon Challenge (swallow a tablespoon of cinnamon without liquids – could result in choking and respiratory problems)? The Salt and Ice Challenge was popular several years ago (put salt on your skin, then hold ice on it, and see how long you can stand the burning sensation – could result  in frostbite or third degree burns). The Choking Game was popular with those wanting a temporary “high” (choke to temporarily cut off oxygen to the brain – could result in death). Then there was the Fire Challenge (pour flammable liquid on self and light it – could result in serious burns or death).

Enter our newest social media challenge. The Blue Whale Challenge. This new craze is so controversial that people can’t even decide if it’s real or not. It allegedly started in Russia, spread to Europe, and has now made it to the Americas. The challenge involves 50 tasks that start off as seemingly harmless (watch a scary movie) and then progressively get more dangerous or intense (carve in your skin, stand on the edge of a high building). These tasks are assigned by a “whale” or curator, and evidence of task completion is sent via social media.

The way to “win” the challenge is by completing suicide. While broadcasting it on social media.

Yes, you read that correctly. To “win” this challenge, you have to kill yourself. As a parent and therapist – geez, as a HUMAN BEING – this is SCARY! What kind of monster gets a kick out of assigning the tasks and then watching someone die?

In San Antonio, 15-year-old Isaiah Gonzalez completed the game by killing himself. His parents found him hanging in his room, his phone propped up and broadcasting the scene. His is the first confirmed Blue Whale death in the United States. Investigators are also looking into a 16-year-old girl’s suicide in Atlanta.

Don’t assume your children can’t fall victim to this challenge. One journalist in Europe was able to contact a challenge curator. The curator stated once the challenge was started, there was no way out, and stated that if the person tried to get out, “I have all your information, they will come after you” (source: www.higgypop.com/blog/blue-whale-challenge/).

Children and teenagers are subject to impulsivity and emotions. This challenge preys on those traits, as well as becoming a psychological game. The curator grooms the challenger, just like a sexual predator would groom a victim. Things start out small and seem easy. Then they increase just enough to make the person uncomfortable but still seem like “no big deal.” Then they increase again, and again, and again.

Some of the tasks involve getting up at 4:20 am. Allow me to point this out: when you are sleep-deprived, you don’t think as clearly. Sleep also affects your mood and health. You make more impulsive decisions.

In other words, the challenge is DESIGNED to break you down.

Parents, this is your wake-up call! Get your nose out of your phone and pay attention to your children. Don’t be a “friend” to your kids. Be a parent. Be nosy. Be watchful. Be annoyingly in their business. Show them you care. Talk to them. Note changes in their behaviors. Read what they are posting online. Know their friends, and talk with their friends so they are comfortable coming to you if they see any concerning behaviors.

Some people argue that only people who are already suicidal will do the Blue Whale Challenge.

Does that seriously mean we should ignore it? Should we ignore the grooming and psychological games that are being used? Um, no! Those things can work on anyone, but especially on those who have insecurities or doubts or who need attention. I just described most teenagers!

What if it was your kid working towards completing this challenge?

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Jessica McCaslin

Jessica is a mom who is working outside the home part-time and who is learning to cope with the ever-changing daily challenges of full-time parenthood. She graduated with her Master's degree in community counseling from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2005, and works with a diverse mental health population. Jessica resides in Central Nebraska with her husband and four children on the family ranch.

I Am a Mother Evolving

In: Grown Children, Kids, Motherhood, Teen
Mother and child walking by water in black and white photo

Those who mean well squawk the refrain— “The days are long, but the years are short.” They said I would miss it— little feet and newborn baby smell nursing in the wee hours with a tiny hand clutching mine. Tying shoes,  playing tooth fairy,  soothing scary dreams. They were fine times, but I do not wish them back. RELATED: Mamas, Please Quit Mourning Your Children Growing Up I rather enjoy these days of my baby boy suddenly looking like a young man in a baseball uniform  on a chilly Wednesday in April. And my Amazonian teenage girl  with size 11...

Keep Reading

Kids Need Grace and So Do Their Moms

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Woman touching child's forehead

We were having a hard morning. Our house was overrun with toys, I hadn’t had a chance to get dressed, and my stress level was increasing by the minute. To top it all off, my 3-year-old was having a meltdown anytime I spoke to her. Even looking in her general direction was a grave mistake. It was one of those days that as a parent, you know you’re really in for it. I was quickly losing my patience. My frustration began to ooze out of me. I snapped orders, stomped around, and my attitude quite clearly was not pleasant to...

Keep Reading

As a Nurse, This Is How I Prepared My Daughter for Her First Period

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Woman wearing sunglasses with hands on the sides of her face and smiling, black and white photo

I don’t remember my first period, which means my mother had me well prepared. This doesn’t mean I was okay with it. I remember feeling awkward and tense each time. And honestly, for many years, shopping for feminine hygiene products filled me with unease. But wait a minute! There shouldn’t be anything shameful about something that will recur for about half of a woman’s life! Who decided it was to be a sensitive subject? Aren’t we all supposed to show empathy toward each other when it comes to this?  I say, pass the Midol around, sister! I knew the time...

Keep Reading

With Grandkids, It’s The Little Things

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Nine children sitting on a couch together

We had just pulled into the driveway when our youngest grandtwins, 3-year-old Ellis and Brady, came running out the front door and down the steps to hug us. “Let me see your earrings, Grandma,” Ellis said, reaching up to pull me down to his level. “The green M&Ms!  I told you, Brady!” “Those are the ones our brother Adler picked out for you!” Brady yelled as he ushered us into the house and started going through the tote bag I always carry for them, filled with favorite books from our house and three little bags of snacks in the bottom....

Keep Reading

Childhood Is Not a Race

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Two young girls playing in creek bed, color photo

Sweet child, I know you want to grow up. You want to get older and do more and more. I see you changing day after day. You are no longer a little girl, but you’re turning into a young lady. You’re becoming this wonderful person who leads and cares for others. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. But don’t rush out of your childhood. It’s this beautiful season where wonder and discovery live. It’s this beautiful time when you don’t have to carry the weight of adulthood. It’s this beautiful time. Savor it. Slow down and enjoy it. Breathe in...

Keep Reading

There’s Something Special about Band Kids

In: Kids

There is something incredibly special about band kids. The hours of practice that begin in elementary school. It’s the squeaking and squawking of a new alto or the flutter of early flute days, high-pitched honks from a trumpet, constant and consistent tapping . . . drumming on everything. And gallons of spit too, until one day a few years down the road, you realize all that practice time has turned into an incredible melody and skill. The alarm that goes off at 5:35 a.m., and before most people are awake, band kids have sleepily found a quick breakfast bite, grabbed...

Keep Reading

You’ll Grow So Much In Kindergarten and I Can’t Wait to Watch

In: Kids
Two young children in backpacks walk toward a school building

On her seventh day of school, my kindergartener doesn’t cry. It was a long road to this day. For the first six days of school, we experienced varying degrees of screaming, clinging, running back inside our house and slamming the door, and expressing general displeasure with the whole idea of school. “I wanna stay home with YOU, Mommy!” “But Charlotte, you are bored out of your mind every day of the summer. You hate it.” “No I don’t. I LOVE IT.” “Well we can spend every afternoon after school and all weekend together. You’ll be tired of me in five...

Keep Reading

Six Feels So Much Bigger

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Little girl with horse, color photo

Six . . . Six is only one number more than five,  one grade, one year . . . but it feels so different. Five is baby teeth and new beginnings. Five is venturing out into the world, maybe making a friend. Meeting a teacher. Learning to ride a bike. Six took my breath away. Six looks like a loose front tooth—tiny and wiggly, soon to be replaced by a big tooth, one that will stay forever. Six looks like a bright purple bike zooming down the driveway. RELATED: When There Are No More Little Girls’ Clothes Six looks like playing...

Keep Reading

There’s Something Special about Football Boys

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Football captains lined up at 50-yard line, color photo

There’s something about football boys.  Maybe it’s the sunrise practices when the heat is too strong mid-afternoon. Or maybe it’s the late nights lying in their beds, studying game film long after practice has ended and once their homework is done. Maybe it’s the way they look under the Friday night lights, with pads over their broad shoulders and light reflecting off their glossy helmets.  Maybe it’s intangible, something that can only be felt deep in the heart as you watch them run through the paper banner, past the cheerleaders and fans, and onto the field. Yeah, it’s true, there’s...

Keep Reading

Your Kids Look For You on the Sidelines—Do Everything You Can to Be There

In: Kids, Motherhood
Parent watching soccer game from the sidelines

After putting in a full busy week, with countless other parents, we flocked to the sidelines to cheer our little youth athletes on this weekend. In our particular case, we were up by 5:30 a.m. on a Sunday and not back home until around 6 p.m. Each time this happens, I always think back to my own parents and the parents of my friends and think God bless the parents who always show up. I see them in a whole new light of heroism now. Sometimes I drive 30 minutes in one direction to watch one kid play one sport,...

Keep Reading