When you play the Game of 72, you disappear from your family for 72 hours and you lie about where you’ve been. There is no middle ground.
But that’s assuming there’s a game to play at all. New reports from authorities suggest that the Game of 72 may be more of a hoax and not something teens are actually doing.
In the Facebook game #GameOf72, which I wrote about last week, teens challenge each other to disappear from their families and loved ones for three straight days with absolutely no contact. The game allegedly originated in France when a 13-year-old girl went missing and, when discovered, claimed she had been playing the Game of 72.
Though the game startled parents at first, new reports claim the game is a hoax. The Washington Post’s Caitlin Dewey listed the Game of 72 on her blog at the end of last week in a post about things that are fake on the Internet. Dewey reported that the game hasn’t become a nationwide trend yet and that it’s very unlikely to gain popularity.
Similarly, Mic’s Sophie Kleeman reported that the Game of 72 isn’t something for parents to worry about yet — at least until there are more reported cases. Constable Brian Montague, a spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department, told Mic that there’s been an overreaction to the game from parents.
“We never issued a warning about the game as has been reported,” Montague told Mic. “We responded to questions about it from media and unfortunately they turned it into a warning from police.”
And The Local, a newspaper in France, where the game allegedly originated, reported that there isn’t a lot of evidence of the Game of 72.
“The Facebook challenge … has left authorities baffled — not least because they’ve been unable to actually find examples of it online,” The Local reported. “Rather, they’ve uncovered plenty of panicked postings from parents who are eager to warn each other about the game.”
All of these reports indicate that parents shouldn’t worry about the Game of 72. In fact, the worry some parents have already shown towards the game may have already prevented the game from gaining traction.
Jennifer Shapka, a University of British Columbia educational psychology professor, told The Toronto Sun that she doesn’t think the trend will take off because parents are aware of the game and ready to prevent teens from playing it.
Shapka also said that she doesn’t expect teens to find this trend interesting because most adolescents understand how harmful disappearing can be to their families.
“It might be something that seems exciting,” Shapka told The Toronto Sun. “We live in an age where everyone knows your every movement. At this point in adolescent development, they’re trying to stand out and be noticed and certainly this could fit with that desire to be needed and gain attention. But I would say that for most adolescents, this would not be tempting.”
Still, Shapka advises parents to keep in contact with their children in case they decide to play the Game of 72. She also suggests parents make sure that their teen feels wanted and that they receive an appropriate amount of attention.”None of this is about the technology,” Shapka told The Toronto Sun. “All of this is about relationships. So talk to the kids. Give the child an idea of what it would really be like if they disappeared for 24 hours. I think it would be easy to dissuade a child from invoking the wrath of the police department and the parents and the school.”