Teen Tracking in Combating Social Media Challenges

March 15, 2018 Published by

Viral social media challenges have become especially popular among teens. Many of these trends are harmless, other than the potential embarrassment they cause in hindsight years down the road. The Ice Bucket Challenge actually ended up raising millions of dollars for ALS research. Others, such as the Mannequin Challenge or the Harlem Shake, were based in good fun.

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However, not all of these viral challenges are so innocent.

Consider, for example, the “Tide Pod Challenge,” which began in December as a Twitter meme involving dares to eat the pods, and then a challenge that became popular on Twitter and Facebook, with many videos showing people eating the laundry detergent pods. The challenge was linked to a sharp increase in poisoning incidents, and as such, Facebook and Google began removing videos that featured the challenge. Procter & Gamble, which owns Tide, believed the issue had gone so far out of control that it aired numerous advertisements urging people (especially teens) to not eat the pods.

Consider also the IKEA Challenge, which dates back to 2016. This challenge, which also became especially popular with teenagers on social media, involved dares to stay in IKEA stores for 24 hours. One popular video involved a pair of teens who packed a laptop to watch Netflix while spending the night on one of the store’s beds. They end up getting caught by a security guard.

It’s safe to say that the allure of social media “likes” and validation can cause people to do some dumb, illegal and potentially dangerous things.

Technology can help

With people searching for better ways to monitor the behavior of teens on social media and to put a stop to destructive behavior and online bullying, there are technologies that can be used to deter these types of events and challenges in the future.

Perhaps the best way to do so is by using tracking functionalities that are implemented on most smartphones. All smartphones are equipped with GPS functionality, meaning that the manufacturer or service provider can easily track the location of the device at any time.

Let’s take the IKEA Challenge as another example. Let’s say someone posts a video of them successfully pulling off the IKEA Challenge to YouTube. If their YouTube channel has their identity on it, their service provider can easily pull up a detailed history of location information on their phone to determine if they were at an IKEA past closing hours. This can result in them receiving the appropriate punishment for trespassing.

There are also features that track a teen’s phone usage, including the apps they use. Some applications can limit the usage of those apps, which can prevent them from turning them into vehicles for bullying.

Smartphone technology is here to stay, so while it is up to parents to ensure their children use their devices responsibly, it is also up to technology companies to figure out ways to limit the malicious use of their applications. Personal GPS tracking functions can be one way to accomplish that.


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Leave a comment below if you have additional ideas about how to end these harmful trends!

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