Reports have emerged of children hanging off bridges as a part of a "challenge" on Snapchat, with police having to attend to multiple incidents in Greater Manchester where the dangerous acts were spotted by motorists.
After being questioned by authorities, it was revealed that the youngsters might have been trying to impress their friends on Snapchat as a part of an unidentified challenge.
Inspector Jim Jones, from Greater Manchester Police, took to Twitter to alert parents. "Officers tonight have attended several incidents of people hanging off motorway bridges. Those spoken to claim it's a Snapchat challenge to post pictures leaning over bridges. How irresponsible can you get. Please help nip this in the bud and RT," he posted.
Dave Harford, a mental health specialist for West Midlands Ambulance Service, said, "I'm lost for words! It's not big, it's not clever – it will claim lives." He also went on to condemn the irresponsibility of causing mental trauma to others.
"Nice to see they consider the innocent drivers who see such a sight & those of us who pick up the pieces when it's gone wrong! Idiots."
Parents have grown increasingly concerned over the influence of social media challenges on children and adolescents, with the trend on an upward slope. Earlier this month, a 14-year-old boy was left in a coma after accepting a drug dare on Snapchat.
One of the most infamous cases, the "Tide Pod Challenge", made headlines all over the world in January this year. It involved people, a majority of whom were teenagers in the US, ending up with serious health problems after consuming pods of Tide detergent.
Dr. Kristy Goodwin, a well-known child researcher in Australia, discussed how much harder it is to combat peer pressure when social media has become so integral in a person's daily life. "Because of the prevalence of social media and because of its widespread adoption, kids are being exposed to so many things," she was quoted as saying by news.com.au last year.
She explained that the lack of impulse control rendered young minds vulnerable to dangerous online challenges that would make them feel "connected and competent".
Goodwin also said that "99% of parents are completely oblivious to these social media challenges that kids are participating in", as she highlighted the constant exposure and algorithms of social media posing as a "contagion risk".
She urged parents to openly talk to their children about what they could come across online rather than to enforce complete digital abstinence.