Tide Pod Challenge and Social Media Safety
Hi everyone! Long-time no see. I’m so sorry about the delay in new posts, I’ve had a ton going on. For the majority of October, November, December, and the beginning of January my family has been sick. There’s nothing seriously wrong, but it’s just normal for parents who have small-ish children to catch every single germ the kids bring home from school. That’s what happened to my family on top of holiday celebrations. A cold kept circulating throughout my home, which then morphed into an ear infection and tonsillitis for me, a chest infection for The Husband, and just a general feeling of blah.
While recovering from all that sickness crap, I’ve been dealing with my normal winter depression funk, all while taking seminars, listening to podcasts, and more to learn everything there is to know about being a store owner. It’s been a process.
We even had a couple of snow days in which Punky and I went outside and had an amazing snowball fight and built a snowman called Snowy.
Now that we’ve all kicked the illness to the curb and I have my depression under control, I’m back!
This post is all about the Tide Pod Challenge that’s circulating on social media and making its way through the news cycle. I have quite a bit to say about this, so hold on for a wild ride!
(This post is extremely judgemental, which is my right to post on my own platform. If you don’t want to read my soap-box (unintentional pun) ranting or my occasional cursing, please move along now. Thank you. )
The Tide Pod Challenge
If you haven’t heard by now, there are teenagers taking part in a Tide Pod Challenge, in which they eat these laundry soap pods on camera and post it to their social media platforms. Why are they doing this? I assume to show how “cool” they think they are.
Challenges between humans are really nothing new. People have been doing stupid shit for as long as humanity has been around, whether it’s to stave off boredom, or to impress someone else. The only reason that humanity has survived this long is because most of the dumb asses who took part in these challenges have all died off due to their own stupidity.
Somehow in the last few generations, people have been getting dumber. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the fact that we no longer learn anything of value. We watch way too many cat videos or Fail Army videos on Youtube to have space in our brains to learn useful skills. Maybe it’s because parents are treating their kids as friends instead of actually parenting them.
Attention parents: Knock that shit off! Your children NEED you to actually parent them. Teach them right from wrong. Give them boundaries. Teach them that eating toxic substances is stupid as hell and could land them in the hospital, or dead. Kids are extremely impressionable and need adult guidance until their brains are fully formed and they are able to make intelligent decisions. If left to their own devices (because you don’t want to upset or offend them), they end up doing shit like this.
Which leads me to the following:
A Conversation with Punky
I had a conversation with Punky this morning about all of the latest social media challenges, and it went like this:
Me: Punky, I have a hypothetical question for you. If you were to see a video on Facebook or Youtube of someone challenging you to eat laundry soap pods, or to eat a spoonful of cinnamon, or anything else, would you take part?
Punky: It depends on what the challenge is. If it’s a challenge to eat an entire bag of Haribo in one go, ok. But eating soap is stupid. It’s toxic and could kill you.
Me: That’s exactly right. At the very least, it could make you incredibly sick. What makes you not want to do these types of challenges?
Punky: Because they’re stupid.
Me: Good! I’m really glad to hear that! This conversation is the first of many that we’re going to have about what’s appropriate and not while using the internet. If you see a challenge online, or someone challenges you to do something, please come to me first and we’ll talk about it before it happens. We’ll go through the dangers of each challenge, and make an informed choice on if it’s ok to do it or not. You are currently smarter than 99.9% of the teenagers using the internet at the moment. Keep making me proud, son!
Punky: Mom, can I go back to playing Minecraft now?
Me: Of course.
Keeping the lines of communication open
This is the shortened version of the conversation, because we went through all of the latest challenges that have popped up. We talked about making good choices, about how damaging most of these challenges are, and the consequences for your actions. We talked about the potential danger of social media due to societal pressure, and how this needs to be an ongoing conversation as he grows.
See how easy that was? Even though he’s only 7.5 and doesn’t use social media yet beyond searching for cute animal pictures on Pinterest or watching Minecraft videos on Youtube, he can use common sense about putting anything in his mouth that doesn’t belong there. Because I actually talk to him, and parent him. Punky knows that he can always talk to me about anything, because I keep lines of communication between us open. If you can’t talk to your kids about small things (like this), how are they going to talk to you about the big things that happen in the future?
Social Media Safety
Social media is a fairly new thing. The first recognizable social media site called Six Degrees was created in 1997. Then came blogging, Myspace, Flickr, Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter. I’m not going to go through the entire history of social media, but you get the idea.
I was 12 when social media started to become a thing, and wasn’t much older when we got our first home computer. My parents knew then that we needed to stay safe online, even though there weren’t as many ways to get in trouble then. My first social media profile was created on Myspace shortly after it launched in the early 2000’s. Before then, I used services such as Yahoo! Chat, which is where I met The Husband.
A Parent’s Responsibility
I know you’re probably going to roll your eyes at this, (as I myself did when widespread internet use was becoming a thing), but you need to monitor your kids online. Monitor their cell phones, their texts and emails. Have that difficult conversation about not sending nudes, or pressuring others to do socially unacceptable things. Make sure they’re watching age appropriate things on Youtube. Go through their browser history, and talk about any questionable sites that are visited. Make sure that your children are using the internet safely.
Not only are the old threats such as hackers, child groomers, paedophiles, and the like still out there, you also have to worry about cyber bullying, peer pressure, and more. There are very real risks to being constantly attached to social media. It’s nearly impossible to unplug. Before the internet was introduced in the mainstream market, you wouldn’t see the school bully until the following Monday. It never ends now.
Kids and teens aren’t being taught how to deal with these situations, because you aren’t teaching them all of the lessons that we learned when we got started online. You don’t keep the lines of communication open, so they can talk to you about their daily struggles.
It’s ok to be a “mean” parent
This lack of responsibility is showing our kids that it’s okay to do reckless things (like eating laundry soap) that could end up with extremely dire consequences. Don’t be that parent. Don’t allow your child to do harmful things to themselves or others. This means stepping up and most likely “offending” them by actually being a parent, not their best friend.
The entire point of this post is that you as a parent are responsible for teaching your children the dangers of these online challenges. It’s not the job of the school, or your parents, or anyone else. If you were adult enough to have a child, you’re adult enough to raise them properly.
For the love of all that is holy, teach them not to eat the fucking Tide Pods!
Until next time,