Parents

What parents should know about the spooky 'Charlie Charlie Challenge'

It’s being called the new Ouija board or a supernatural version of the Magic 8 ball. And if your child is suddenly preoccupied with someone named Charlie, here’s what you need to know about the spooky new teen craze.

The “Charlie Charlie Challenge” has exploded on social media in the past few days, purporting to allow players to summon a “Mexican spirit."

To take part, people are instructed to get two pencils and lay one on top of the other in a cross shape on a sheet of paper. They then write “yes” and “no” in the resulting four quadrants and ask, “Charlie, Charlie, are you here?” or “Charlie, Charlie, will you come out to play?”

If the top pencil moves and lands on “yes,” then apparently a demon named Charlie is in your house and players can ask it more questions.

A number of videos purporting to show the top pencil move and players running away screaming with fright have been shared online.

The hashtag #CharlieCharlieChallenge has been tweeted 1.8 million times in the past week, according to Topsy.com.

Google's Daniel Sieberg said “Charlie Charlie Challenge” was one of the most searched terms on the website over the Memorial Day weekend.

“This was really trending big,” Sieberg told TODAY’s Willie Geist and Al Roker, noting people were particularly interested in the videos showing the pencil move. He had his own theory about the seemingly spooky activity.

“I wonder if maybe somebody did a little bit of blowing on the pencil to just kind of help it along,” Sieberg said.

Charlie is purported to be a “Mexican demon,” but there are no legends of a demon by that name in Mexico, said BBC Mundo’s Maria Elena Navez.

So what’s going on? “Charlie Charlie” has been a schoolyard game in the Spanish-language world for years, according to The Washington Post, which suggests a television report about the trend in the Dominican Republic last month may have led to the challenge going viral and jumping to the American mainstream.

Bottom line: Unless you are seriously concerned about your child summoning demons, "Charlie Charlie" is harmless.

Not everyone is focusing on the creepy aspect of trying to summon spirits.

Some players are having fun with the game online, with a One Direction fan creating a “Who will I marry?” version of the challenge, complete with pictures of the band members in the corners.

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