KidMag’s Guide To Chain Messages For Kids

Have you ever received a long message about doing things for wishes or luck? Was it kind of weird and made you think about why the person would send you that? If you answered yes, you’ve probably had your fair share of so-called chain messages.

Now, for those of you who don’t know what chain messages, here is a quick explanation:

Chain messages are very long texts, emails or comments (on a YouTube video etc.) meant to scare the receiver into sending out copies of the message to other people. It will say things like “if you don’t send this message to 15 people in 10 minutes, you will have bad luck!” However, some go further than that and tell you to do some kind of “challenge”. Some challenges are silly and meaningless, however, others may be violent or harmful. Chain messages can sometimes mention things like fairies, angels, devils, and other mythical creatures, who the sender of the chain message claims will reward you with good luck if you succeed at forwarding the message to a certain amount of people.

Here is an example of a chain message:

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 4.48.20 PM.png

What to do when you receive a chain message?

If you receive a chain message, do not worry.  It’s not something really bad, and most of the time, it’s nothing scary. Nothing in the chain message is true. Trust us, you won’t get bad luck at 3:00 A.M if you don’t forward a chain message to 15 other people in the next ten minutes. But it also means the reward is made up too, although sometimes it can be quite obvious that it is.

As soon as you receive a chain message,  take a screenshot of it and then delete the message so that you are not tempted to send it. However, if you read something that makes you feel unsafe or suspicious, tell your parents and they will deal with it as they see fit. At the end of the day though, all you can do is delete them, which is always the best option.

If you receive a chain message, here are some steps you should follow:

  1. Do not send it to other people! Do you know the panicked, scared feeling that you got when you received the chain message? You don’t want other people to feel that way. All that you are doing when you send chain messages are spreading negativity.
  2. Take a screenshot of the message. This could come in handy later.
  3. Delete the message so that you are not tempted to send it.
  4. Tell your parents about it and let them read the screenshot if they want to. They might think it’s no big deal, and they might not.
  5. If your parents think it is a good idea, send a quick, polite text or email to the sender of the chain message, simply telling them not to send you any more chain mail. However, if it is a person that you don’t know, you should not reply to the chain mail at all. More on that later*!

When you have completed those steps, there is nothing more you can do than ignore it. Take a break from your device and just try to forget about that pesky chain message. It’s really no big deal.

How do I know if it is a chain message?

Most of the time, it is pretty obvious if you received chain mail. Sometimes, it can be harder to detect, or, if you’re new to chain mail, or don’t have much experience with texting, detecting a chain mail might be harder. Here are some basic questions to ask yourself when you’re not sure what type of text you received.

  • Are there any grammar, spacing, spelling, paragraphing or emoji placing that doesn’t make sense? Is it poorly written?
  • Does the message seem realistic? (ie. fairies will give luck)
  • If the message isn’t chain mail, why would your friend-or whoever texted it send the message to you?
  • Trust your gut. Does it make you feel scared, confused, concerned, or anxious?
  • Is it from someone you text often? If it’s not, that could be a sign that it is a chain message because the sender may have been desperate to send out the chain message and had to use an old contact they forgot about – which could be you.
  • OK – here’s the big one: does it say, ANYWHERE in the message about forwarding it to a certain amount of people?

*How do I respond to chain mail?

Most of the time, you don’t need to respond. However, it depends on the circumstance. If it makes you feel more comfortable replying, and your parents think it is a good idea, then you can reply in a kind and clear tone. You should not say anything like “my parents don’t let me send chain mail.” This is a bad idea because the sender of the chain message will feel like they broke your parents rule, which will feel very negative because they probably don’t know your parents that well and they will probably feel embarrassed! The senders own household rules might be different than yours, so don’t mention your parents! It will make them feel quite guilty about what they did, which is not the intention.

Here is an example of what you could say to the sender if you receive a chain message:

“I’m sorry, I can’t send that. Please don’t send me any more chain mail. 😊” (The smiling face is key here. This signals to the sender that you are not mad or upset at them, but you just don’t appreciate the chain mail and would prefer not receiving any more.)

However, in most cases, it isn’t necessary to reply to a chain message. If replying makes you feel more comfortable, go for it! But if you don’t think it’s necessary, then there really isn’t a reason to reply.

*SUPER IMPORTANT NOTE* If the sender of the chain message is a person who you don’t know, then DO NOT REPLY. Simply delete their contact and block them, with the help of your parents.

But wait, why are chain messages even bad?

Chain messages, at least the ones that your friends send you, are typically viewed as being pretty harmless. There are some that are chain messages meant to scam people, but the ones that you receive as a kid aren’t really like that. They are, however, hurtful and insensitive. It’s definitely not a good idea to send a chain message around, but they are not usually life-threatening or anything serious. 

Did you find our guide to chain messages helpful? Let us know using our contact page!