After the whole country learned about the "death groups", messages about other threats that await children literally at every step began to spread virally in the parental environment. Tricks of pedophiles, gum with drugs and deadly competitions are all reported by vigilant citizens on parent sites and forums. Concerned moms and dads spread alarming information among friends in instant messengers and social networks, repeating the same recommendation like a mantra: warn children, protect them from danger. An avalanche of scary messages without clear sources and evidence produces mass hysteria, which primarily affects children. Where do parental fears and horror stories come from? Is it always better to play it safe? What is the danger of strict parental control, disguised as a desire to protect the child from everything bad? "Lenta.ru" understood these issues.
The latent threat lurked not only in suicidal publics, but also in cartoons about the Winx fairies. Mailing with warnings about dangerous content began after the incident in Cheboksary. There, a five-year-old girl lit wooden sticks from a gas stove, depicting a cartoon character - a fairy of fire. The fire spread to the child's clothes, and as a result she was taken to the hospital with severe burns. And on the forums and in social networks, information was actively disseminated that the girl set herself on fire by reading (!!!) instructions on how to turn into a fairy in social networks.
Authoritative sources are sure: professional psychologists are behind such instructions, who use special mechanisms to influence children. Although, if we ignore the conspiracy theories, most often the same children, only older, are the writers. The instructions themselves, written as a joke, are not intended for children, but rather for trolling their anxious parents.
All new ways of transforming into fairies are being proposed - for example, turning on the gas and, without lighting a fire, go to bed. Or paste over yourself with sparkles, uttering magic words, and boldly step off the windowsill. The degree of parental hysteria is steadily increasing. Young mothers on forums bombard each other with advice: to protect children from TV, computer and telephone. For the safety of the child and his psyche. At least until high school.
But the trick is that as a student grows up, the number of dangers waiting for him on the streets and on the Internet also increases. The "fairies" are being replaced by insidious drug dealers who are trying to add addiction to illicit drugs. There were scary stories about traffickers willing to offer free drugs to children before the Internet. But thanks to messengers, messages about "chewing gum with heroin or spice" are sent to thousands of recipients around the clock. To make the information look more believable, it is usually accompanied by a "recent fatal poisoning of a teenager" and a reference to a police officer they know who is a relative of the author.
Although the Ministry of Internal Affairs has repeatedly denied the spread of drugs in gum, official comments pale against the background of emotional spam tantrum: “Check your children's messages! Parents, be careful! Criminals work over the dark internet! First time addiction is 100 percent."
The matter is complicated by the fact that hysteria is fueled not only by parental communities, but also by teachers. Under the guise of warnings from the "Department of Education" rumors of deadly games are circulating. One of them is “Run or Die”. You need to cross the road right in front of a moving car, as close to it as possible. This is done supposedly in order to shoot a video and assert itself in front of peers. In fact, not a single such incident has been recorded recently. As it was not possible to find in the network "numerous" video confirmations of how children run across the road on a dispute.
Another challenge, allegedly common among children, is “Hide for a Day”. It is required to be out of sight of the parents for 24 hours. Talk about the game arose after the disappearance of 12-year-old Viktor Borger from the village of Stepnoy in the Rostov region. The boy was found in Rostov a few days later. As he himself said, all this time he wandered and spent the night on the street. What was the real reason for his departure is unknown, but history has served as a basis for many generalizations and speculations. Local publics, and behind them the media, talked about a new "trend" among teenagers, referring to the Instagram account of the parent community. Then word of mouth spread the news to every parent and teacher.
And again, no one paid attention to the fact that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the search and rescue squad "Liza Alert" denied all this. But it is there that the first to learn about the disappearance of the child and find out the reasons for his departure.
But the most important and, perhaps, the saddest thing here lies elsewhere. Hysterical parents do not even think about the fact that the child's departure from home (no matter for a day or a week) primarily indicates problems in the family. Any attempts to explain this by the fact that someone involved the child in a "newfangled flash mob" is a pitiful way of avoiding their own problems. As with the notorious death groups, it is much easier for a parent to look outside for the cause than to deal with their own problems. Why bother yourself with an unpleasant analysis of your relationship with your child when so many dangers come from the "blue whales" and "white dolphins"? “With all the attention to death groups, suicides committed under their influence make up a negligible fraction of the total. The main problem is conflicts with parents in the family,”says Boris Polozhiy, professor at the Serbsky Center for Psychiatry and Narcology.
Sending false alerts is not deliberate, but spontaneous dissemination of false information, explains psychologist Maria Razlogova. “Of course, viral messages, not supported by any facts, do one harm. Parents are afraid of danger, but it is not clear to them how they will be convinced of its reality and avoid it. At the same time, total control over a child in social networks undermines trust in parents. As a result, it only gets worse. You need to talk to children not only in a moralizing manner, at least you should know about their hobbies and social circle,”the psychologist notes.
Gossip and various kinds of speculation diverge in a distorted form due to the fact that the safety of children worries everyone, and there is no way to fully ensure it, adds Razlogova. But distinguishing a fake message from a real-life warning, she says, is easy. Real warnings provide specific advice on how to avoid the hazard. For example, with fraud.
The path to common sense is also made more difficult by the fact that the dissemination of alarming messages makes parents and teachers feel that they are performing their function correctly, notes a practicing psychologist and gestalt therapist Ekaterina Rau. “When parents are united by feelings of concern, it adds to their confidence that they are 'good parents.' Good in the eyes of whom? Society and other parents, but not their own child. In fact, they assert themselves through excessive guardianship and control, and the problems and needs of the child fade into the background. There is a substitution of concepts: anxiety is equated with love, - emphasizes Rau.
The roots of increased parental anxiety lie in the character of a person, psychologist Mikhail Labkovsky is sure. “Such people feel the need for an abstract sense of anxiety. If there are children, anxiety is located in them, which is easy to understand. When children are very young, they are not given independence, they run after them, lie down with bones in front of sockets and irons, they are not even allowed to move down the hill normally. When children grow up, they are not allowed to play peacefully with other children in the yard. Even a little older, total control begins: a computer, social networks, a telephone,”explains Labkovsky.
This behavior creates a false sense of calm in the parents, while the children under vigilant control, on the contrary, cling to any opportunity to escape from under it. Instead of arranging total surveillance for the child, the psychologist recommends explaining the general safety rules to him in a confidential manner. “You will be much calmer if you teach children to behave correctly, to make the right decisions, not to succumb to provocations and manipulations. To do this, one must be calm, one must not turn into an anxious paranoid. And we need a trusting relationship with the child,”Labkovsky believes.
Psychologists agree that the reason for this kind of problem is parental self-doubt. Anxiety in this case is the expectation of something bad from the world and uncertainty about one's own parental position. In the fact that you can cope with difficulties and protect your child.
The anxiety is further aggravated by the fact that parents want their children to be "an improved version of themselves." In a society where achievement and success are considered the main value, the need for this is realized, including through children. The idea that a child will do something wrong and become someone else makes some parents go for very severe restrictive and punitive measures. This, according to Ekaterina Rau, is already pure narcissism. And parental hyper-anxiety is a good way to isolate yourself from other everyday troubles. After all, if the child needs to be saved from something, then the mother goes into it headlong and may not think about her own problems: unsettled personal life and fear of loneliness.