What is Up With Teens Today

We scour the internet to find out the latest in teen behavior


It is summer time and teens are always looking for something to do. Tackling mid-summer boredom doesn’t always mean books and activities. Social media games that involve self-harm have been on the rise and spreading like wild fire! These games are convincing impressionable youth to hurt themselves through physical and emotional harm often leading to cutting and suicide. Here are some of the games that have been highlighted in the media most recently:

  • Blue Whale Challenge
  • 13 Reasons Why
  • Pass Out Challenge aka the Choking Game: in which teenagers deliberately began choking themselves to achieve a euphoric high.
  • Salt and Ice Challenge: where teens put salt on their skin and then place ice over it. The salt reduces the temperature of the ice which causes burns or frostbites to the player.
  • Fire Challenge: where teens set themselves on fire.
  • Cutting Challenge: this game makes teenagers cut themselves on purpose, take pictures of the cuts and upload them online.

By participating in these games teens think this gives them some sense of identity, however misplaced it is. These trends go unnoticed until they go viral. It’s important to get familiar with these trends so the warning signs can be identified before it’s too late.

What to look for?

  • Changes in mood
  • Dealing with existing mental health concerns
  • Interesting/odd drawings, journal entries, social media posts
  • A new obsession
  • Cuts, bruises, unusual marks on the skin
  • Complaints of illness
  • Changes in school performance (grades, attendance)

Best Practices for school staff and personnel according to the American School Counselor Association (ASCA):

  • Educate teachers, administrators, parents/guardians about the warning signs
  • Collaborate and coordinate with school and community organizations to ensure students have access to mental health services
  • Help identify and address students’ mental health issues
  • Provide school based prevention strategies with targeted interventions for students with mental health and behavioral concerns
To learn more about how you can help, check out ASCA’s fact sheet about “13 Reasons Why” and How School Counselors Can Help.