The ‘Senior Assassin’ Teen Game Has Experts Worried—Here’s Why

The popular game is meant to be fun, but it can lead to dire consequences.

<p>GettyImages/Photo by Kosei Saito</p>

GettyImages/Photo by Kosei Saito

Fact checked by Sarah Scott

There’s a popular high school game causing school leaders and law enforcement officials around the country to voice concerns. The game, “senior assassin,” typically entails students using water guns to “tag” their targets.

Usually played off school grounds, the game expands to community areas, such as parks, restaurants, and residential zones. While the rules may vary depending on the institution, there are basic guidelines. Participants are assigned a target and can either tag the other students by hand or spray them with water. Once tagged, the player is eliminated from the game, continuing until one player is left and deemed the winner.

While there is little information on its origin, the game’s reach has increased significantly since the early 2010s, possibly due, in part, to its portrayal in popular shows like iCarly and Gossip Girl. More recently, the game has spread via social media, with players posting content on platforms like TikTok and Instagram and encouraging others to share their experiences.

The game is meant to be an innocent, fun senior tradition, but officials are worried it can put teens in harm’s way. Police departments are issuing warnings and urging parents to talk with their kids about the potential dangers, while principals are sending letters home.

Why the Senior Assassin Game Is a Cause for Concern

For a better chance at winning, some students disguise themselves by wearing ski masks, headgear designed to cover the face except the eyes or mouth. Having recently been banned from wear in various public spaces in Philadelphia due to its frequent use to hide the identities of those committing crimes, many associate ski masks with trouble.

Officials are concerned that people unfamiliar with the game may view an individual in a ski mask as a threat and take action.

Instances such as this have already occurred: in Gurnee, Illinois, an adult, who is a concealed carry holder, mistook gameplay for a serious situation. While no one was hurt during the encounter, the severity and possible outcomes are worth noting.

There is also considerable risk connected to young people toting toys that can closely resemble actual guns, especially those with modifications. There have been several instances of police officers shooting children after mistaking toys for real firearms, such as the infamous fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. A similar shooting happened in April 2024 in Akron, Ohio, when an officer of the Akron Police Department shot a 15-year-old boy in the wrist after falsely identifying the boy’s toy gun as a firearm.

Teens may view the game as harmless, but making them aware of the potential dangers of this type of play can open the floor to necessary dialogue.

How To Talk to Your Kids About the Possible Dangers

Start an honest conversation

“Create a safe space for your child to share their thoughts and experiences,” Britney Dent, a teen life coach and keynote speaker, tells Parents. Providing children with a comfortable and inviting environment can encourage them to speak freely. “Find a calm moment when both you and your children are relaxed and can have a meaningful conversation without distractions,” Dent says.

For a better understanding, it is best to speak with your kids about the potential dangers of the game. “Sit down with your child and have an open, honest conversation about why displaying fake weapons is concerning,” Dent says. “Use real-life stories or news articles to illustrate your point.”

Set boundaries

It’s important to provide clarification to your children. Define what appropriate behaviors in different situations look like, provide examples, and assure your teen that these rules are in place to keep them safe.

“Clearly communicate your expectations regarding participation in pranks and games,” explains Dent. “Let your child know what behavior is acceptable and what is not, and be prepared to enforce consequences if necessary.”

Meet them halfway

Teens and young adults can sometimes struggle with abiding by rules. Dent suggests that these behaviors are made in an attempt to assert their independence.

“Understanding the reasons behind children’s pushback against rules can help parents respond effectively and address underlying issues while still maintaining boundaries and expectations for behavior,” she says.

Again, open communication allows for free expression from both sides, even when your child may have an opposing viewpoint. Staying open-minded and receptive allows them to speak without fear of judgment.

“Acknowledge and validate your child’s feelings, even if you don’t agree with them,” Dent says. "Let them know their emotions are valid and that you understand where they’re coming from.”

Focus on safety

The “senior assassin game” is not the first of its kind; there are other popular games in which players can find themselves in dire situations. Dent suggests that teaching your children about appropriate behaviors and discernment can prove beneficial in future circumstances. It can also help keep them safe.

“Parents teaching their children about the dangers of 'senior assassin' pranks is crucial for promoting safety and preventing potentially harmful or even tragic consequences within their community,” adds Dent. “By raising awareness about the risks involved, parents can help their children make informed decisions and avoid participating in activities that could result in serious injury or legal consequences.”

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Read the original article on Parents.