The social media fad Game of 72, which encourages young people to find ways to disappear for three days, is of concern to Vancouver police.
Game of 72 is believed to be behind the disappearance of British schoolgirls Sammy Clarke, 14, and Siobhan Clarke, 15, who are not related. A massive manhunt was sparked after they left school in Maldon, Essex, to meet a friend early last Friday, and the girls were found safe Monday. A 22-year-old man was arrested in connection with the incident.
Const. Brian Montague of the Vancouver Police Department says there have been no indications that the Game of 72 has been played in Vancouver, but police warn that disappearing on purpose for 72 hours is a bad idea, especially given it would likely trigger a police investigation.
"This is beyond foolish," he said. "Not knowing where their loved ones or family members are, it is extremely hard to explain and until you are in that situation, I would not wish it on anyone."
The VPD deals with 3,000 to 4,000 missing persons cases annually, and is concerned that the online prank might take away police resources from legitimate cases.
Parents should talk to kids about risks
Montague says parents should talk to their children about the Game of 72.
"Let them know that you have heard of these games on social media and how foolish a game like this is."
Online awareness expert Jesse Miller says the game is a troubling social media development.
"I think any time people are demonstrating a want to participate in something that is high-risk behaviour, we should be concerned, but the reality right now here is we haven't had any documented incidents," he says.
"There are a couple of tweets that have come out of Canada about it, but that could be because of the recent media attention."
Parenting expert Kathy Lynn says the key for parents is to not just ask their kids about the game, but to explain the possible outcomes.
"It is important for parents to say, 'Let me tell you what it would be like for me,' talk about your terror, your fear, your concern what it would do for you if your child suddenly disappeared for 72 hours."