Current false reports about dangerous challenges

As in previous years, reports are currently circulating in the press warning of a dangerous Internet challenge. Allegedly, there is a person who writes to children and young people under the name Jonathan Galindo and encourages them to engage in self-harming behavior. As with similar reports in the past, it quickly turns out that this is a hoax. Nevertheless, it is worth talking to children and young people about this Internet phenomenon.

Because even if there is no real danger from this alleged challenge, the fear of children and young people of the scary-looking figure is real. Children and teenagers should definitely be taught that thereis no reason to be afraid of this figure. Accounts with the name Jonathan Galindo and the creepy profile picture based on the cartoon character Goofy are fake profiles. They are created by people who want to make fun of scaring other people. If you are contacted by one of these profiles, it is advisable to report the account immediately to the platform operator or to block it. In general, children and young people should not respond to contact attempts from strangers.

Important for classifying this type of Internet phenomenon is the role of the media. Whether it is the Blue Whale Challenge, Momo or currently Jonathan Galindo - the alleged trends are generated in the first place by a disproportionately large and often incorrectly researched reporting on them. therefore already published a practical information last year, with recommendations for action for reporting on such phenomena. In the current case, too, the interest in the horror figure was first generated by the reporting about it. The high profile motivates people to create fake profiles and contact other people to scare them. The alleged scary challenge thus becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

How can adult caregivers help children and young people?

  • Above all, staycalm. There is not a single case known worldwide in which children or young people have been harmed by such challenges. A fortiori, it is not a widespread phenomenon. Exaggerated warnings about dangers can reinforce already existing fears in children and young people.
  • Convey that before participating in any challenges, one should always carefully consider whether or not they are dangerous. You can find detailed information and tips on problematic challenges in this klicksafe article.
  • Take the fears of children and young people seriously. Even if there is no rational reason to be afraid, the various horror figures and the stories surrounding them are definitely scary. Children and young people will only turn to caregivers with such concerns if they feel they are being taken seriously.
  • Often, such content is widely circulated because it uses the form of the chain letter. Therefore, explain in an age-appropriate way what chain letters are all about, especially why there is no need to be afraid of them and that there is no need to fear any negative consequences if you do not forward them. You can find information about chain letters in our WhatsApp topic area.
  • Convey that forwarding such messages and chain letters should also be refrained from. Even if you yourself are not afraid and think the whole thing is fun: Such content can greatly frighten others and should therefore not be forwarded. Depending on the content, forwarding can even be punishable if, for example, violence is threatened or calls for criminal acts.
  • Stay in touch with children and young people about what is happening to them online and what is bothering them. If possible, accompany the online activities of children and young people in an age-appropriate manner and make it clear that you are available as a contact person in the event of problems.

Further information