Imagine the fear of finding out your child is missing. Now, imagine the relief of finding him safe and sound only to discover that his ‘disappearance’ was part of a sick social media dare.
This is exactly what’s been happening to parents across the globe thanks to the ’24-hour-challenge’ social media craze.
This week, a devastated father issued a warning to all parents after enduring a day and night of hell trying to locate his 11-year-old son.
Search for missing child ends in IKEA
Abid Mirza, from Sheffield, UK realised his son, Kaden, was missing after school. He immediately took to Facebook and put up posters in hopes of finding his boy.
After a frantic night, the police discovered Kaden hiding in an IKEA in Sheffield. Kaden had managed to sneak in and spend the night there.
Abid later made the shocking discovery that Kaden’s plan was premeditated. Abid checked his son’s mobile phone history and found YouTube videos on how to hide out and not get caught.
He soon learned that this ‘trick’ was all part of a challenge in which kids are dared to go missing for 24 to 48 hours.
Father’s warning to all parents
Abid posted his story to Facebook, urging other parents to check their children’s phones and be aware of this dangerous dare.
“These kids are different at home and something else outside,” the frantic dad wrote. “I just don’t have words to describe what to say.”
A spokesperson for IKEA spoke out about the incident, stating, “At IKEA, the safety and security of our customers is one of our highest priorities. We do not allow this kind of activity to take place in our stores.
We are constantly reviewing our security procedures to better prevent these incidents from happening.”
‘Think twice before taking part’
This incident is only one of the many cases involving a 24-hour or 48-hour challenge. These types of challenges encourage kids to hide out in large stores and warehouses overnight, before sneaking out the next day.
Following the incident, South Yorkshire Police released a statement highlighting the dangers of the trend.
“To many young people this internet craze may seem like a bit of fun that is impressive on social media. However the risks and harm are by no means humorous and could be catastrophic,” Detective Inspector Anna Sedgwick said.
“As well as the safety risk, children often do this without the knowledge of their parents. [This] could lead to large scale searches or even cause them to be reported as missing. This not only causes fear and worry for parents, friends, family and the local community but can also be a waste of valuable police time, which may be needed to respond to a life or death situation.
I hope by highlighting the seriousness of the craze, young people will think twice before taking part.”
For keeping your kids safe on social media, please see our Cyber Safety Guidelines. Then take a look at our report on another stupid and very dangerous craze sweeping social media – the detergent challenge.