With the advent of Web 2.0 technology, new social media companies offer free platforms for the public to express their thoughts and feelings about things they encounter in life. Gradually, the youth have altered the platforms to disseminate social challenges through YouTube, Instagram, etc.
Some are funny and meaningful, like the Ice Bucket Challenge, while others can be dangerous and even lethal such as the Tide Pod Challenge or The Blue Whale Challenge. Peer pressure and memes have quickly allowed such social challenges to disseminate quickly through social media channels.
The following articles and scholarly journals focus on the influence of social media challenges on the teenage generations and how and why the challenges become viral.
This is another exploration into the reasons why teens love to do these online challenges. It goes into the biological causes, such as the developing brain and also puberty. It also talks about the psychological research, such as social experiments on teen peer pressure and one-upmanship.
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This blog briefly goes into why teens are susceptible to challenges from a biological standpoint. Because of their developing brains, the teenage years are an impressionable period. The blog explains how other factors contribute to their unnecessary risk-taking like peer pressure and the feeling of invincibility.
Photo source: http://cyprusaware.eu/en/the-winners-of-aware-social-media-challenge/
There are two groups of people studied in this journal, the crowd and media influencers. The researchers discovered which group causes memes such as social challenges to go viral. The surprising answer is the crowd, which disseminates the trend, while the influencers sustain it.
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This is a good overview of the Ice Bucket Challenge. It talks about the ALS goals and the results of the campaign. It also discusses how the ALS Association tried to support the challenge, with a media promotional campaign as well as online resources to support the challenge.
Photo by Scott Barbour — Getty Images from Fortune (https://fortune.com/2016/07/27/ice-bucket-challenge-breakthrough/)
This unfortunately popular social media challenge involves self-harm and ends in eventual suicide. This paper tries to explain the spread of this self-destructive challenge. It also explains the warning signs of a person interested in this challenge, and lastly analyzes the demographics of users who may be involved in the game.
Photo by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images from Forbes (https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewrossow/2018/02/28/cyberbullying-taken-to-a-whole-new-level-enter-the-blue-whale-challenge/#3bc3227a2673)
This research article is about the case study of five suspected players of the Blue Whale Challenge. Most of them denied participating in the game, although a majority had self-inflicted cuts. Despite the lack of evidence of the game, the study mentions that the Blue Whale Challenge popularizes self-harm, and recommends further medical and psychological training for this disorder.
Photo source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewrossow/2018/02/28/cyberbullying-taken-to-a-whole-new-level-enter-the-blue-whale-challenge/#2b894fb92673
This research paper dealt specifically with burn challenges, identifying the different methods of self-harm and the role of social media, in particular Youtube, in disseminating the challenges. The purpose of the paper was to educate parents and doctors about this behavior so that they could properly help the child understand the dangers of self-immolation.
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From a PR company viewpoint, it talks about how a company can try to create a successful social media challenge. It talks briefly about why social media challenges are popular, and discusses ways to enhance its popularity. One interesting point that other articles don't mention is the role of traditional media in propagating social media challenges.
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This is another listicle about social media challenges, but this time from the point of a view of a parent. The blog that published this, focuses on parents providing security for their children. It lists many of the popular but dangerous media challenges, and explains the risks of each challenge.
Photo by Emre Kuzu from Pexels
Using the STEPPS (social currency, triggers, emotion, practical value, public, and stories) framework, the researchers discussed how NPOs can use twitter to spread eWOM (electronic Word of Mouth). The researchers categorized all the viral content into the 6 STEPPS principles and analyzed each principle in detail. It finally suggested how NPOs can use the relevant principles to initiate their own social challenge.
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The article identified the factors that caused IBC to become viral. It then demonstrated how to apply these five factors to other campaigns. The five factors are social media marketing, celebrity influence, eWOM, viral marketing and right-time marketing. In addition to the factors, the challenge itself should be fun and rewarding as well.
Photo source: https://www.justaskgemalto.com/en/going-viral-mean-work/
Specifically about the Ice Bucket challenge, the researchers tried to identify the first pillar of diffusion, which are the inherent elements of the IBC meme that contributed to the diffusion. The second pillar was the identification of the external social characteristics that helped spread the meme. Lastly, the paper provided some practical applications for the model that they created.
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The theory is that the more unique a meme is, the more popular it will become. However, similar memes that arise after the first meme (protomeme) occurs will cannibalize their audience, which should lead to lower popularity for the protomeme and its imitators. However, an imitator can become popular if it is more dissimilar to its peers, which the researchers have termed, having low canonicity.
Photo by Getty Images from BBC (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-48308638)
This chapter of a book focused on three viral challenge memes: neknomination, ice bucket challenge (IBC) and Smear for smear. The author analyzed not only the life-cycle of the memes, but also the effect they had on producing imitations. Finally, the author argued that VCMs are creative and inclusive endeavors, as people try to either one-up or perform the challenge in a unique and original way.
Photo source: https://www.themarysue.com/success-kid-crowdfunded-kidney/
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