Parents: Be alert to social media challenges and peer pressure on your kids

National events have indicated to Congress that social media can have detrimental effects on teenagers.

Whistleblower Frances Haugen indicated in her Senate testimony that social media giant Facebook had internal studies showing oftentimes negative effects on young people.

"The kids who are bullied on Instagram, the bullying follows them home. It follows them into their bedrooms. The last thing they see before they go to bed at night is someone being cruel to them," Haugen said. "Kids are learning that their own friends, people who they care about, are cruel to them."

We also know that social media, though it can be used for good, has also been the source of body image issues for young girls.

One of the recent issues involving social media involves "challenges." Some are innocent and harmless. Others have led to big problems. The Southeast Missourian reported on two such challenges that went south in recent weeks.

Last month the Cape Girardeau Fire Department and EMS responded to a home where an individual participated in the One Chip Challenge. The chip is exponentially hotter than average spicy potato chips. Though it is unknown whether social media played a role in this specific example, we know there are countless examples online of individuals challenging each other to taste the chip and then posting the video online. It's not funny, and it's dangerous to the individual's health.

In another example, middle school students have participated in the viral TikTok trend called "Devious Licks," which inspires students to vandalize or steal items out of their school bathrooms. A few local schools reported incidents, but the Central Middle School had so many issues the school administrators had to restrict bathroom usage to only certain breaks.

Another issue -- not tied to social media but recently reported on here -- that's becoming more of a problem around the country is the use of drugs laced with Fentanyl. Unsuspecting young people, thinking they are getting a lesser opioid, have died from taking pills laced with this narcotic, which is 100 times stronger than morphine.

Parents, talk with your children about the dangers of social media, peer pressure and drugs. Set boundaries. Make sure they understand that not all the images they see online are real. Caution them against bullying. And make sure they know about the dangers of drugs, including unprescribed prescription drugs. Young people face so many challenges in today's world. Stay engaged in their lives.