Last Updated on 10th December 2021

You may have seen recent media reports about the re-emergence of online viral challenges. We monitor these closely to make sure our network has the information they need to protect children and young people online. In the last few weeks, we have seen reports of a reappearance of the Blue Whale Challenge.

What is the Blue Whale Challenge? 

Reports claim it involves 50 challenges over 50 days which get progressively dangerous. At the time of writing, there are no substantiated claims that young people are participating. Details of the challenge are loosely reported in the media without fact, raising fears among parents and safeguarding professionals.

The Blue Whale Challenge is one of many viral challenges which can re-appear. However, not all challenges are negative. Some can be fun or used to raise money for charity or raise awareness on important issues like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Here is what you need to know: 

  • There is no evidence that this challenge is real 
  • It has been the subject of academic studies because of its ability to strike fear and panic across the world without any substantiated claims
  • Unfortunately when news breaks of a viral challenge, it can inspire copycat accounts who aim to scare younger children
  • This means that something that was not real, can in some cases become a risk to children and young people
  • Our team has reviewed multiple news stories, which have found no factual basis for the claims
  • As with all online risks, extra care should be given to young people with additional or complex needs

What you can do

  • While it’s helpful to keep up to date with online challenges, it’s essential to understand them in their broader context
  • Sometimes we can indirectly drive attention to challenges by talking about them, so it’s best to get around this by following our advice in the video below
  • When having a conversation with a young person in your care about sensitive topics or issues, have a look at our tips to pause, think & plan
  • Sign up to our safeguarding hub newsletter to keep up to date with the latest online trends
  • For more information about viral challenges, why they happen, how they go viral, and how you can talk to young people about them, check out our video below

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