We’ve all heard the phrase “It’s all fun and games till someone gets hurt”. But what if, getting hurt was the name of the game?

A new trend is rapidly gaining popularity amongst Serbian youth, while at the same time, causing headaches for many parents across the country.

This new trend is called the “48 hours challenge”, and it has gone viral really fast. The rules of the game are very simple: all you have to do is run away from home for 48 hours without letting your family and friends know where you are. You can also earn extra points for every message, phone call or public post your worried loved ones make.

No one knows for certain how this trend started or who created it, but we do know where it went viral – Facebook. These days, children spend too much of their time on social media where unsuspecting dangers may lurk within.

Serbian Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, Tatjana Matic, has however dismissed such claims, saying that no report whatsoever has been made to the National Contact Centre for the Safety of Children on the Internet thus far.

“Every form of communication with an unknown person or accepting friend requests from unknown persons is considered risky behaviour on the Internet and can have serious consequences”, said Matic. The Minister added that special attention should be given to online activities of children and teenagers, as well as to their awareness of the dangers of the Internet.

“It’s also very important to let them know not to engage in the so-called challenge games, which are targeted especially at young people.”

Hoax or not, sadly this isn’t the first case of sick and twisted games carried out by children and teenagers. A couple of months ago, Serbia was shocked by the case of a fifteen-year-old girl who got pregnant by engaging in sexual activities with her peers during a children’s birthday party. When asked what had happened, she admitted to having sexual relations with a couple of her peers on the aforementioned party.

A couple of months ago, Serbia was at the centre of another, more shocking and dangerous game. Many Serbian children have been invited to play a game called “Blue whale” on social media websites. The rules and the concept of the game are twisted and sickening: during 50 days, whoever chooses to play this game, has to go through a series of morbid challenges, each one worse than the other – from watching horror movies all day to committing self-harm, all of which have to be posted on social media. Once you reach the final level, you have to complete the most gruesome task of all – you are ordered to commit suicide. Police in the city of Becej in the South Backa District of the autonomous province of Vojvodina has discovered a case very similar to the description of this dangerous game. A twelve-year-old girl has completed the first three levels of the game, but no physical injuries have been spotted on her body.

What can we do to keep our children safe? Even though there are so many lectures, cases, and examples, children still wander into the depths of the enticing fear-culture, unaware of the risks that can easily get them into trouble.