Mum of Archie Battersbee warns parents of 'dangerous' social media challenges

Archie Battersbee and his mum Hollie Dance.
Credit: Family photo/PA
Archie Battersbee and his mum Hollie Dance. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Two mothers who blame dangerous social media challenges for the deaths of their sons have warned more children are at risk until online safety is improved.

Hollie Dance's son Archie Battersbee suffered a brain injury at home in Southend-on-Sea in April 2022.

At his inquest, a coroner concluded the 12-year-old died accidentally in a "prank or experiment" which went wrong.

Lisa Kenevan, from Basildon, believes her son Isaac, 13, died after taking part in a so-called choke challenge on social media.

The two mothers say many parents are unaware of what their children are viewing online and have teamed up to try and raise awareness about the issue.

Ms Dance said: "We still don’t know whether Archie took part in a challenge, but the coroner did say that it couldn’t be ruled out.

"For me it’s just really important to warn other parents. You can see why kids would be drawn into doing these challenges.

"With parents now, it’s a different era when it comes to the internet. I suppose there were challenges and things at school, but they weren’t highlighted and they didn’t spread through the Internet like a craze." 

Mothers Lisa Dance and Lisa Kenevan are campaigning to improve safety for children online. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Ms Dance said Archie was a very active child with many hobbies including gymnastics and trampolining and she did not have any worries about what he was viewing online.

She believes that many parents would not be able to recognise a dangerous social media challenge and do not know which accounts are harmful.

"It's like inviting a million strangers into your house, isn't it? said Ms Dance.

"You wouldn't allow your children to mix with these people that are putting this content up in the outside world, yet here you are inviting it into your home via the internet."

Ms Kenevan described her son Isaac as a typical teenage boy with a good group of friends and a strong relationship with his family.

He loved gaming, was very inquisitive and enjoyed taking part in challenges, but Ms Kenevan was unaware how vulnerable this made him to certain social media content.

She said he died following a challenge after being "influenced by a friend or whatever he's seen on social media".

Isaac Kenevan died aged 13 after taking part in a social media challenge.

"I had no thought that he was putting himself in danger," said Ms Kenevan.

"I was aware of certain things online, but as a parent I trusted him because when he had a phone at the age of 13 he was mainly using it for actually contacting people as opposed to viewing stuff online. 

"We’ve been working quite closely with other parents, specially with the Online Safety Bill. Finally that’s got across the line, but there’s a long way to go."

A survey by online safety charity Internet Matters has found 63% of parents are concerned that time online has negative impacts on children’s health.  

Hollie and Lisa want better education in schools, more government scrutiny of video sites and faster removal of harmful content.

They also want to see age verification and changes to social media algorithms.

Ms Dance said: "The Internet can be a very educational place. I’m not actually against these platforms, I think they are very educational, but something has got to be done to protect the children. Children's safety comes first."

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