Like many tools, the Internet is only as safe as users make it. However, the mass spread of information has resulted in many users, mostly young people, trying to get Internet famous. Recent ‘challenges’ have proven to be dangerous and sometimes deadly, but some teenagers are still opting to risk their safety for humor, causing law enforcement to request that parents explain the risks of fad challenges.
The most recent challenge, known as the “24 Hour Challenge,” involves adolescents attempting to have a ‘sleepover’ at IKEA furniture stores. Teenagers did not realize the danger of such a challenge until an eleven-year-old in the United Kingdom went missing after attempting it.
IKEA has proven to be an optimal place for some pranksters, as there are beds to sleep on and furniture can be used to make forts out of. It is these elements, though that authorities explain to make the challenge a safety concern.
In attempting to inconspicuously stay in the home furnishing warehouse, participants may hide in unsafe place which could dangerously expose them to electrical hazards. Moving furniture can also prove to be dangerous, as IKEA holds “large quantities of heavy stock and items that could easily fall and crush someone if they are moved incorrectly, or used to build makeshift forts,” according to detective inspector Anna Sedgwick of the South Yorkshire Police.
She theorizes that the Internet challenge could prompt other young people to temporarily go missing, as did Kaden Mirza from Sheffield. This week, Mirza attempted the dangerous challenge, raising concern. His father reported him missing when he did not come home from school on Tuesday.
Fortunately, Kaden was found safely the following morning, but his friends and family were not amused with the stunt.
His father, Abid Mirza warned other parents on Facebook of the dangerous challenge which resulted in his son’s disappearance.
The father reported that weeks prior, he noticed on his son’s Internet history a search for pulling off “24hrs stay in school and go undetected.” Kaden responded that he was just looking up something he heard at school. Other than that, the father said, “he planned it quite well.”
Sedgwick added that children and teens who run away to attempt such a challenge are also negatively affecting their communities, as “large-scale searches” are expensive and time-consuming for law enforcement.
She also mentions the obvious burden that comes with a child going missing, even if only overnight. Family and friends are sure to worry about a missing loved one’s safety, regardless of a disappearance that was meant were meant to be a harmless joke.
The challenge has apparently been around since fall last year when two Belgian adolescents crashed an IKEA, creating an Internet sensation over a YouTube video earning over two million views that many tried to replicate.
Kaden’s father encourages other parents to monitor their children’s Internet history for indicators of trying to participate in dangerous challenges.
Detective Sedgwick offered a more preventative and less intrusive solution: to guide kids to not participate in such risky behavior, saying, “A few words of advice could save a youngster’s life.”
While this is true, one would think that children and teens would not be so foolish as to eat poisonous laundry detergent or point loaded guns at one another, which have been attempted during other challenges. It is indicative of lack of proper parenting which is clearly not preparing adolescents to make appropriate choices.
IKEA has responded to hearing about the latest challenge and is not impressed. The spokesperson for the furniture company mentioned that while the store encourages its customers to “create fun experiences,” it does not permit anyone to remain in the store after closing time.
The store reported that it is “reviewing security procedures” to prevent others from trespassing in the stores. So far, the challenge has been attempted in Australia and Japan, as well. In October, two Swedish girls “were arrested for trespassing” after successfully spending the night in an IKEA store.
IKEA may also consider hosting Airbnb events again, as it did at one location in Sydney, Australia in 2014. As part of a media event, shoppers could spend the night at an IKEA store for twelve Australian dollars. This could be a safer compromise to unauthorized IKEA sleepovers.
Internet challenges are becoming increasingly dangerous, as one reckless idea can spread around the globe, and generally, the more extreme a stunt is, the more attention it will receive.
To combat this recent challenge, Mr. Mirza also advised all customers to constantly be on the watch for children and teens by themselves in stores, particularly in the afternoon and evenings after the school day has concluded.
Even more so, it appears that America’s youth simply requires more guidance and common sense than many are armed with. However, if they are going to be the next generation of drivers, professionals, and voters, then they will need to start making smarter decisions and stop participating in dangerous behaviors.