Social Media, Bullying, and Violence: What Can Parents Do?

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October 12, 2021

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!


Sharon M.

Parent VIP Member

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Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.


Director of College Advising

Educator Webinar Attendee

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This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.


Irene C.

Educator Webinar Attendee

This app is listed in the Green Zone.
This app is not safe for students to use unsupervised, but a Green Zone app can serve a positive purpose to help a student to navigate social media and someday build an online brand. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Green Zone.

This app is listed in the Gray Zone.
Gray Zone apps often contain lots of private & disappearing messages, and strangers can use this to chat with students. Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe. This zone can be a great place for family time since many of these apps can be entertaining, and let your students express themselves. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Gray Zone.

This app is listed in the Red Zone.
Red Zone apps often have lots of anonymous features, adult content, and easy contact with strangers. Supervision is strongly suggested on each of these apps or move your kids to a safer zone. All apps require parental supervision, these apps more than others. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Red Zone or view our list of 100+ Apps to find a safer app with your student.
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This trend is categorized as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge.
Viral challenges encourage students to do dangerous things to garner likes, views, attention, and subscribers. These challenges can be found across several social networks and may encourage students to perform dangerous activities. keeps parents updated on these social media challenges before an incident may occur in your community.

Table of Contents

Bullying, threats of violence, and destruction of school buildings, along with physical abuse to school personnel, have increased recently,  thanks to social media challenges and fast-spreading social media posts. 

Principals and teachers across the country are begging for parents’ help to get more involved in their student’s social media and decision-making skills to help stop these dangerous trends. 

Parents must have ongoing conversations with their students about social media challenges and appropriate behavior expected in their family and help students learn how to say no to peer pressure, online or in person.

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What are social media challenges?

  • Social media challenges encourage users to participate in specific activities and then share their videos or photos for others to see
  • Some of the most recent popular social media challenges stem from TikTok but can be found on any popular social media app once the challenge goes viral

What is cyberbullying?

  • Cyberbullying is any form of bullying that takes place using electronic devices
  • Cyberbullying can quickly transfer from social media to in-person disagreements between students at the same school

Recent school violence and social media challenges in the news

San Francisco schools superintendent has gotten wind of a spinoff challenge of sorts – this one involving the assault of teachers. And he's ready for disciplinary action if need be…


There have been over 100 incidences of vandalism and theft in the last few weeks that have been linked to social media challenges.

NewsChannel 5

‘Right now to them, it’s a joke,’ Douglas County Deputy Gabe Uribe said. ‘What’s concerning is that from being funny to committing a crime is a very thin line.’


What can parents do?

  • Start tonight-don’t wait 
  • Encourage an open discussion with your student about what they have seen on social media, heard at school, or among friends about social media challenges
  • If your student doesn’t want to talk, reassure them that you, or other trusted adults, are there to listen any time
  • Ask your student if they feel threatened or teased at school or on social media and help them find trusted adults to talk to about their feelings and what to do
  • Frequently look at your student’s social media feed and their posts WITH your student 
  • ~Remember, “Snaps” disappear after the user sees them once, so checking your student’s phone frequently and with the student (so they don’t miss seeing anything) is important 
  • ~If your student doesn’t have TikTok or Snapchat on their own device, it doesn’t mean your student is not seeing it shared on other social media they do have or on their friends’ accounts and devices
  • As you are looking at your student’s social media feeds with them, ask them what they think about what they see
  • Explain the serious criminal repercussions police and school officials will pursue if a student’s social media accounts are connected to threats, evidence, or obstruction of enforcement of violence, property destruction, or physical harm to others
  • Talk about a plan with your student for when they do see or hear something that is pressuring them to participate in a dangerous social media challenge, or if they are being bullied and feel angry or upset
  • ~Talk about ways to say no even if they are repeatedly asked by their peers, or are teased for walking away
  • ~Help your student make a mental list of trusted adults whom they feel comfortable talking to at school or at home if their friends are pressuring them to partake in dangerous social media challenges
  • Reassure your student that their true friends like them for who they are outside of social media, not because they posted something risky 
  • If students are not willing to talk or share with you at all, consider installing parental control software to help monitor their actions. Learn more about the different options here
  • ~Caution: parental control software cannot replace parental involvement as no service is able to monitor 100% of social media

Parents: Learn more about social media dangers

Join the SmartSocial VIP (Very Informed Parent) membership to learn tips to keep your student safer online. With more than 30+ courses, you AND your student will better understand the dangers and ways to stay safer on the most popular social media apps

Schools: Consider adding a social media/anti-bullying tool

Give your students a way to report issues and concerns from their smartphones. Click here to learn about the SmartSocial Anti-Bullying & Incident Reporting Text Message Platform

More resources about peer pressure and bullying

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Social Media, Bullying, and Violence: What Can Parents Do?

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