What should I do about a viral online scare.

Reports of online scares or challenges encouraging harmful or suicidal behaviours can be extremely alarming. Ensure your children know they can get help at any time and find out what you can do to support them.

Concerned about a child/young person?

If you're worried about your child and think something is not quite right, it's best to be on the safe side and find out more.

Information & Advice:

Viral online scares.

Stories and warnings often circulate online about online scares or suicide challenges which are alleged to have encouraged children to engage in harmful activities. Most have been found to be hoaxes, fake news or wildly exaggerated stories.
Seeing or hearing about this content can be distressing and concerning for both children and their parents.

What should I do if I've heard about a viral scare?

As a parent, there is a lot you can do to support your child. It's important to help your child feel safe by staying calm.

If your child has not yet heard about the scare, don't bring it to their attention by naming it or trying to explain it. You don't want to frighten them, and the last thing you want is for your child to feel curious and try to look for the scary content online.

Instead, remind them that if they ever feel worried about something they see online - or hear about from friends at school - worries them they can come to you or another trusted adult for help.

Make sure they know if they do see something upsetting or worrying, they are always in control. Tell them they can report it to the platform they are using and close down their app or browser - and you can help them with this.

Use this as an opportunity to check that privacy settings are enabled on the apps they use and set parental controls to filter out inappropriate content.

Continue to have open and honest conversations with your child. Keep up-to-date with what they are doing online, celebrate the positives, and keep talking about how they can stay safe.


It's so important to remember to remind them that they are in control. They can report it to the platform they are using and close down their app or browser. The scare is not real and it has been put online to frighten people, and most importantly, there are places you can go for support.

Get Support:

Internet Matters give information, advice and support to keep children safe online.

> Learn more

Childline are available to give support through their councillors, they also have support boards and host loads of information and advice.

> Learn more

NSPCC are the 'UK's Children's Charity' providing support for children going through abuse and they have lots of advice for keeping children safe online.

> Learn more

CEOP is a command of the UK's National Crime Agency, and is tasked to work both nationally and internationally to bring online child sex offenders, including those involved in the production, distribution and viewing of child abuse material, to the UK courts.

> Learn more

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