An Australian expert has weighed in on a global trend taking the internet by storm, saying TikTok's "egg crack challenge" could be doing lasting damage to impressionable children. The videos all feature young children happily helping adults cook, blissfully unaware they're about to have an egg broken on their foreheads.
"Ouch, that hurt," a boy cries in one clip, as his mum struggles to contain her laughter. In a second video, a young girl, having just had an egg cracked over her head, looks up at her mum for sympathy. But finding only heartless giggles, she bursts into tears. It's all too much for the mother, who buckles over with laughter.
Many of the videos now have their comments turned off following a barrage of criticism. "When they look up searching their parent's face for reassurance and don't find it, you can see the hurt just fold inside them. I hate it," one viewer responded. "The look of betrayal on their faces is heartbreaking," wrote another.
TikTok prank could cause trust issues
Child psychologist and author Deirdre Brandner says parents should consider the consequences of involving their children in such pranks, beyond getting a few laughs on social media. "When parents, who are the child's whole world, start intentionally causing a fright, we need to consider two important things: a child's sense of self-worth and their ability to trust," she explained to Yahoo News Australia.
"Videos posted on the internet have a way of sticking around, and children might not fully comprehend the long-term implications of having such videos available to the public. When parents deliberately cause a child's distress for laughs and share this, we're shaking our children's trust in the world."
Involving a child in such pranks could also affect their ability to form healthy connections with people, Ms Brandner says: "Parents play a significant role in shaping their children's values and behaviours. If parents show that it's okay to play pranks that might hurt or embarrass someone, children might inadvertently learn that these actions are acceptable, which could impact their relationships with peers as well."
Time to put the camera down?
Ms Brandner added that constantly filming children for the world to see, particularly in manufactured situations, can put a big dent in their ability to trust. "When a child does something totally pure and full of innocence, they're just letting their curiosity and sense of adventure shine — it's super heartwarming that parents may want to share this moment," she said. "But when parents decide to capture a video instead of being in the moment, they kind of turn into spectators to their child's not-so-happy moments."
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