Cops: Parents, beware the 'sick' 48-Hour Challenge

A social media challenge has kids disappearing for days at a time.

Tampa, FL -- Parents, listen up. There's a social media challenge that could be making its way to your kid's cell phone. A challenge that could put them in danger, and put you in a panic.

With such genuine heartache out there, it's hard to believe anyone would come up with the twisted social media worrying game called the “48-Hour Challenge”. 

“It's a sick game to even become involved in,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Larry McKinnon.

Cops say the “challenge” encourages teenagers to go missing for up to two days at a time, intentionally putting their parents in a panic.

The more time away and the more frantic mentions on social media, the more points are awarded. 

“It’s a horrible thing to put your parents through, plus you could be civilly or criminally liable for any negative consequences that come out of what you think is just a game,” McKinnon warned.

If this all sounds familiar, cops say the 48 challenge is a lot like another dangerous social media stunt that went viral in 2015 called “Game of 72”.

“I know somebody that did run away, and her mom had called me frantically,” said Amber Beleele, a Tampa mom. “All her friends went looking. And it was terrible. It was heartbreaking watching her go through that.”

Investigators say they're also worried the challenge could put a strain on already limited resources which are needed to solve legitimate missing persons cases.

“Going out there and doing something to help kids that legitimately are missing. But now we're not doing that, because we're out there looking for you,” said McKinnon.

There’s also concern what starts out as a prank could get dangerous – fast.

“Even the teenagers, they go out there, they're facing challenges. They're facing people that are looking for a crime and all that. And drugs, and so – no,” said Tampa mom Julie Nyikos.

McKinnon says it’s a good idea to get word of this particular prank out there as quickly as possible, so parents have an opportunity to talk with their kids and tell them not to even think about it. Not only because it could endanger them, but others as well. 

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