Trends fuelled by social media your kids may be indulging in

If the Kiki song is stuck in your head, but you’re sure your kids won’t be jumping out of moving cars, it’s still a good idea to know what’s happening on social media.

Because it’s always throwing up more than one crazy ‘trend’ after another. “Most of these are targeted at teenagers, who may indulge because the decision-making part of the brain is not fully developed,” says Mansi Poddar, Kolkata-based psychologist. “It’s important to help adolescents step back and look at the causes and consequences.” Here are a few ‘trends’ and ‘challenges’ that, unlike Kiki, we hope never go viral in India.

Barbie feet

What is it? Posing for a photo standing on the toes, much like Barbie, with her heels off. It’s supposed to elogate the legs, especially when the picture is taken from a low angle.

Consider this… A photo is a reflection of the person or a capture of the moment. “Gently ask your child why she’s doing this,” says Poddar. “Is it because she’s trying to look like someone else, or change the way people look at her, or change the way she looks?” It sets certain standards of beauty that are false, because even models and Bollywood actors don’t look that way in real life. Help her recognise that she doesn’t need to mimic anyone else. Also reinforce that she’s lovely just the way she is. “Young people, even adults, often give out a false image on social media, which they will then feel the need to live up to in real life,” says Poddar. It’s the reason there’s a rise in fillers and other invasive products, she says. The American Academy of Facial and Reconstructive Surgery conducted a poll that said that plastic surgeons had a 30% rise in numbers fuelled by social media. The main reason behind it: needing validation from people around.

The hot water challenge

What is it? Throwing boiling water at a friend or drinking it through a straw.

Consider this… “It’s attention-seeking behaviour and a one-minute ticket to fame,” says Poddar. These challenges aren’t usually done in privacy; the purpose is to show it off to the world through a video. “It’s something bigger than yourself; it’s fun; you get public attention and recognition,” she says. The main reason behind it: the need for a sense of belonging to a conversation or community. Poddar also talks about challenges she has seen, such as the pepper challenge, where people were eating the spice and recording it. And the plank challenge, done in dangerous places that were life-threatening. “It’s important to help children understand that the long-term repercussions will outweigh the current sense of connection or cool-factor,” she says. Can’t seem to stop your child from risk-taking behaviour such as this? Consult a mental-health professional.

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