This new internet challenge is not worth the risk
The ‘skull-breaker’ challenge, a dangerous new internet fad, is gaining notoriety as it continues to spread across social media
A new internet challenge is making headlines again for all the wrong reasons. After the Blue Whale Challenge of 2017, which had elements of self-harm over a 50-day period, the “skull-breaker challenge" is finding takers among teenagers across the world. It has been trending on TikTok as well.
The challenge, dubbed the “tripping jump" or “jump trip" prank, involves three people standing side by side. The two people on the side count till three and jump. When they land, the middle person jumps—this is where the challenge becomes downright dangerous. When the person in the middle is in the air, the other two kick his/her feet, ensuring a hard landing that can lead to head injuries. News reports from around the world indicate that several people have, in fact, suffered severe head injuries.
Earlier this week, a report in Khaleej Times noted that the ministry of education in the United Arab Emirates had warned students against this “dangerous online prank". According to the report, safety officers at public schools had been asked to monitor students to ensure they did not participate in the challenge.
Amitabh Kumar, founder of the Delhi based non-profit #SocialMediaMatters, recently uploaded a video requesting youngsters to stay away from the challenge. While little is known about the origin of the challenge, news reports have suggested that it is derived from the Spanish word rompecráneos, or “skull breaker".
Kumar decided to put out a video advisory for parents and teachers on the challenge after a schoolteacher forwarded a related video on WhatsApp. “I asked some friends globally as well and they told me the challenge is quite a menace in San Francisco and Germany," adds Kumar, who founded #SocialMediaMatters in 2018. The non-profit works on tech public policy, online safety, fake news and digital parenting. “We have informed TikTok about this as well, both their India and global team. We have asked them to look into it and ensure that this is downgraded and does not get a lot of visibility… but as it happens nowadays, you capture a video on one platform, it goes on to three-four other platforms," he adds.
So why do social media and internet challenges like this, including the Blue Whale Challenge, find so many takers amongst teenagers? Kumar believes it is a mix of different elements. “It’s toxic masculinity added with some violence and voyeurism. Somebody is falling and getting hurt—at this age, people tend to enjoy that sort of ‘entertainment’. There is also a new phenomenon which we came across last year. It is called self-cyber bullying. Self-harm or hurt is something which is gaining on social media in this age group of 12-16," he adds. “It is also a catchy term. It sounds interesting and people will want to come and check it out."
While there have been no instances of the challenge in India so far, Kumar says his team is monitoring the situation.
FIRST PUBLISHED21.02.2020 | 02:12 PM IST