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What Is the Charlie Charlie Challenge, and Why Are Teens Playing It?

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor
Yahoo Tech

“Oh, my God, guys! Have you heard about the Charlie Charlie Challenge?! It’s, like, so scary! I can’t even!”

If you live anywhere in the proximity of a teen or spend any extended time on the Internet, you’ve likely heard or read about the Charlie Charlie Challenge. 

And unless you have phenomenal intuition, you’re probably wondering what the heck the Charlie Charlie Challenge is and why teens are freaking out about being haunted by a — and I’m not making this up — Mexican demon.

Luckily, we’ve got the answers to these incredibly important questions and more. Let’s get started.

OK, so what’s the Charlie Charlie Challenge?

Basically, it’s a new take on the idea of the Ouija board. Kids use pencils and a piece of paper to create a kind of simple board that they then use to talk to some disembodied spirit.

How do they make the board?

It’s pretty simple. You tear a piece of loose-leaf paper out of your eighth-period algebra notebook. You then draw a cross on the paper and write “yes” in the top left and lower right corners and “no” in the top right and lower left corners.

Where does the demon come in?

Well, once you make your game board, you place one pencil on the horizontal line. Next, you balance the second pencil on the first over the board’s vertical line, making a cross with the pencils.

You then ask, “Charlie, Charlie, are you there?” or, “Charlie, Charlie, can we play?”

Naturally, because the pencils are incredibly unbalanced, the slightest breeze will cause the top one to move and point to either the “yes” or “no” written on your game board.

And then you scream like crazy.

If the pencil lands on “yes,” you can ask the demon any question you want. But if you stop playing without asking, “Charlie, Charlie, can we stop?” the specter will haunt you.

So it’s pretty much a Ouija board meets Bloody Mary.

Pretty much. As the Independent points out, gravity is the reason the unbalanced pencils move. With a Ouija board, it’s the players who unknowingly move the indicator, called the planchette. Basically, the kids are tricking themselves.

In Bloody Mary, you call out to Bloody Mary in a dark bathroom three times, and she’s supposed to reach out and attack you.

Either way, the Charlie Charlie Challenge is just another way for kids to scare themselves.

Why is the demon Mexican?

Most likely because saying it’s a Mexican demon makes it sound more mysterious. According to the BBC Mundo’s Maria Elena Navez, there is no demon named Charlie in Mexico.

“Mexican demons are usually American inventions,” she said.

When did this whole thing start?

That’s where things get kind of murky. A portion of the Twitterverse points to this video, posted in 2014, which shows two kids playing with pencils. But it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the Charlie Charlie Challenge.

According to Mic, the game has been traced to a YouTube video posted back in 2008. In that video, the game is called Six Pencils. Mic also found talk of the game on Yahoo Answers in 2011.

Suffice to say, the Charlie Charlie Challenge isn’t exactly new. It seems as though it has simply reached a boiling point.

Should I be scared if my kids are playing?

Nope, it’s just kids being kids. Chances are, they’ll move on to some other new fad 10 minutes after trying the game.

Should I be scared of the demon?

Really?

Email Daniel Howley at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley or on Google+.