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3 a.m. Challenge a social media trend getting kids out of bed

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind.—Hundreds of kids across the nation are waking up in the middle of the night to take part in a scary new social media fad.

With thousands of videos raking in millions of views, the “3 AM Challenge” is the latest craze to hit the internet.

Kids set their alarms to wake them up during the “witching hour” at 3 a.m. and try to catch something paranormal on camera to post on YouTube. Usually, all while their parents think they are safe in bed.

Local experts say, this could turn dangerous.

Mitch Kajzer is the director of the St. Joseph County Cybercrimes Unit. He says he isn’t aware of any local kids creating the videos, just watching them.

“Essentially sneaking out of the home at 3 o’clock in the morning is a bad, bad idea,” says Kajzer.

While it hasn't reached Michiana, Kajzer is keeping an eye on the trend as it spreads rapidly into nearby major cities.

“It’s kind of a competition to see who can get the most and it is a form of self-validation method for the kids where they feel better as a person the more likes and retweets and comments they can get,” says Kajzer.

The need for “likes” sometimes prompting the YouTubers to put their safety in jeopardy and participating in criminal activity.

“I think kids have the tendency to see things that are happening and they kind of want to up the ante,” says Child Therapist Angela Henry.

Henry says while social media can be great in so many ways, she worries it is also opening up a world of dangerous possibilities.

“We’re handing the child the world at their fingertips and they’re having a lot of opportunity for freedoms that they can’t handle in an adaptive way. We don’t really know when a child sees something what that’s really doing to them emotionally,” says Henry.

Child psychologist Dr. Margaret Jessop helps parents to better monitor their child’s social media. She says too much access to technology can often cause fear and anxiety in kids.

“Their desire to be connected within their peer group is super important. Kids want to be in the loop with their friends, they want to know what other kids are doing. So when they are presented with this stuff they’re going to be curious, that’s okay. We just want to make sure that they can bring those curiosities to us when something is frightening and confusing,” says Dr. Jessop.

She says helping your kids navigate safely in the online world is all about an open dialogue.

“I think the real fear here is that we miss an opportunity to understand what our kids are being exposed to,” says Dr. Jessop.

All three local experts say technology time should be monitored and limited.

During the day, they suggest carving out time to “unplug” from the digital world. At night, experts say kids shouldn’t have access to their phones unless it’s absolutely necessary.

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