The generation that brought you the “Tide Pod challenge” and the “condom snorting challenge” has created another viral trend that is taking the internet by storm. Unlike its brethren, this one isn’t inherently dangerous, or at least isn’t generally life-threatening. Instead, it involves camping out in retail stores and restaurants overnight, with the goal being to remain undetected.
Dubbed the “24-hour overnight challenge,” the viral sensation involves mostly teens and young adults, according to a report by Fox News. Willing participants head to a retail store or restaurant near closing time and attempt to remain in the building overnight.
The trend is believed to have been started by a pair of Belgian teens in 2016. However, if you search for the challenge on YouTube, you’ll find over one million results, showcasing people’s adventures as they try to remain hidden in stores like Ikea and Best Buy as well as shopping malls.
Even Disney World has been a target for some daring challenge participants.
Retailers and law enforcement are trying to curb the trend, citing safety concerns as well as the worry parents can experience if their child’s whereabouts are unknown.
“As well as the safety risk,” said Detective Inspector Anna Sedgwick, a member of Britain’s South Yorkshire police, “children often do this without the knowledge of their parents, which could lead to large-scale searches or even cause them to be reported as missing.”
In February, an 11-year-old British boy who attempted to stay in an Ikea store overnight caused a wide-scale panic when he was thought to have disappeared.
A spokesman for Walmart has claimed the store has been dealing with challenge participants for over a year, with many of them choosing the toilet paper aisle as their hideout.
“We’re familiar with the incidents and obviously don’t condone the behavior,” said the spokesman.
A spokeswoman for Ikea, a common target for the challenge, stated, “We appreciate that people are interested in Ikea and want to create fun experiences with us. We cannot guarantee safety in our stores after closing hours, and that’s why we do not allow this kind of activity.”