A new trend on TikTok is causing a stir online, with experts condemning the practice for its traumatising effect on kids.
The trend, which involves parents activating a cackling ghost filter on their device and leaving their young children watching it while in a locked room, has been slammed by experts and parents alike.
Parents who have performed the scary practical joke on their kids have criticised naysayers for not having a sense of humour, while some viewers have also dismissed it as a light-hearted prank.
"She laughed about it after. I forgot y'all so sensitive on TikTok," one mother said in response to angry viewers on the platform.
While not all children in the videos appear to be frightened – mainly due to some being older or too young to comprehend what they're viewing – the trend has gained traction among parents who don't seem to mind trading their child's terror for views.
Trauma for likes
Few parents who have pulled the prank on their youngsters have showed remorse after watching their little ones cry and scream in fear, while others justified their actions by "apologising" to their children afterwards.
"I gave her ice cream after so I think we're cool," one mother wrote in the comments after pulling the prank on her young one.
However, other parents are outraged by the trend.
"I would never do this to my child. It would make me cry hearing him/her crying like that," a viewer commented on one of the videos, which has amassed 22.8 million views.
"So desperate for likes you traumatised your own baby? I hope she puts you in a nursing home," wrote another.
Experts chime in
The ghost filter trend has also drawn condemnation from experts, who have said that the cruel prank is not funny in any shape or form.
"I'm horrified... As a trauma-informed therapist that predominantly works with traumatised children, I am absolutely... almost enraged at how many videos are under this sound," one expert who goes by @h_e_z_y_helps said in a TikTok video.
"We are literally traumatising our children for views and clout," she added. "That is what's happening here."
"You are questioning that this is not traumatising, let's go over the definition of trauma," she further stated. "Trauma is literally any stressful or terrifying event that is overwhelming, unpredictable and prolonged. If we think that it is funny to do this to our children and post it on the internet – what else are we doing to our kids at home?"
Trent Ray, an educator and founder of Cyber Safety Project & Collective Education Australia also weighed in on the hidden dangers this trend could have on the long-term development of children.
"It's certainly disturbing to say the least that parents are putting their kids through a traumatic experience for likes," Mr Ray told Yahoo News Australia.
Mr Ray explained that just like exposing children to inappropriate content, parents who follow this and similar trends online are modelling this behaviour to their kids.
"It sets a standard that it's OK to do it with their friends," he explained. "We even see this through play, where kids tend to copy what their parents do. It is how they make sense of the world."
"If we want our children to grow up respecting other people, we need to be setting the tone," Mr Ray added.