Hey Parents—It's Not Funny to Traumatize Your Kids on Social Media

·3 min read
Child trying to get out of a room
Child trying to get out of a room

Getty

Can we please stop traumatizing our kids in hopes of going viral? I'm a little bit disappointed that as a mom I have to even write this. I'm the first person to admit that I spend way too much time scrolling the Internet and trying to convince my spouse or children to participate in the trends because it'll make for "good views." But everything really shouldn't be a thing. We really should be thinking past the current moment.

If you have no idea why I'm on a rant today, it's surrounding the latest TikTok trend. In what's being tagged #ghostprank, parents are using a ghost filter to scare the crap out of their young children. Many of the videos involve the parents running out of the room and locking their children in, and some they even turn off the lights. The children, as you can imagine, are terrified. There's so much screaming, crying, and frantically trying to escape the room with the creepy filter.

Anything can happen in the few minutes that your child is left alone in a complete panic, as Nanasilayro, a Filipino content creator with four million followers expressed in a video addressing the trend. "The child can bang their head… pull wires, the child can have convulsions… faint," said Nanasilayro, and not to mention develop "very, very bad trust issues."

And for the love of it all...why? Are we that desperate to receive likes and attention from people that we don't even know, that we'll do it at the expense of the little people we're supposed to protect?

The effects of some of these social media pranks and just prancing children in general can be long lasting. Research shows that children can remember trauma as young as infancy. So the notion that these kids won't remember it is completely false. Even if they don't remember it exactly as it happened, it's embedded in them. The comments on some of the TikTok videos prove this exact point.

"My mom and dad did this to me 42 years ago (they just left me in the room alone), and to this day (50), I am traumatized even thinking about it," one user commented.

"My mom locked me in a well-lit room when I was 3 (I'm now 29) as a prank, there were no eerie sounds nor videos but I was traumatised," another user wrote.

I definitely could not live with myself if I knowingly caused my child trauma just so others could laugh at their expense. Not to mention these children are not consenting to having themselves filmed and photographed in this manner. More than 80% of children have an online presence by the age of 2. I would hate for my child's digital footprint to lead back to something they would be overtly embarrassed by because I wanted to keep up with what everybody else was doing. It's just not worth breaking their trust.

Sharing our lives on social media can serve many purposes. And as technology evolves it's become more and more normal to let people in. Some people use their social channels as an opportunity to connect and relate. Others want parents to know that they aren't alone in different stages of their parenting journey. And some people just want to spread joy. But what we never should be doing is exploiting our children for the sake of "fame." The damage to the parent-child relationship just simply isn't worth it.