Parents are being warned about social media challenges encouraging children to harm themselves and even landing them in hospital.
Children in Southampton were rushed to hospital last week after taking a paracetamol overdose to see who could stay in hospital the longest, according to Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Donna Jones.
The Safer Internet Centre (SIC) is an organisation set up in 2011 to make the internet a safe place for young people.
A spokesperson has revealed the four steps parents should follow in order to protect children from dangerous online trends.
They said: "Our focus remains on proactive approaches that empower parents, and guardians to instil online safety practices and responsible digital behaviour in children.
"At the SIC, we are dedicated to promoting a secure and constructive online space for young users, many of which are on social media."
The SIC's four steps are designed to guide any parents who are concerned about their children's online activity.
The four steps are detailed bellow:
Don’t panic - Online challenges are only successful when they cause panic. Don’t get caught up in the panic and take a step back before acting any further. A calm and collected manner can help prevent the spread of unnecessary worry and panic.
Don’t name it - Warning others about an online challenge may seem like the right thing, however, sending warnings could provoke childen to actively seek the challenge out. Minimise the exposure and don’t give your child something to look for.
Report it - Stop the spread of harm by reporting it online. Social media sites and other platforms should direct users to report content that is harmful. If you are concerned that reporting a dangerous post on social media has not resulted in sufficient action - and the post has poential to cause harm, you should get in touch with the police.
Have an open conversation - Children and young people can encounter online challenges that may cause upset. These challenges can initially seem ‘fun’ but could actually cause real offline harm. Ensure that you or someone your child can trust is available to talk.
More information relating to internet child safety can be found at https://saferinternet.org.uk/