Everyone likes a good prank, right? No, actually, basically no one likes pranks except for the people pulling them. And when the prank involves possibly emotionally scarring your young child, well, you’re even farther off the mark.
Enter the TikTok ghost filter trend, which has been haunting the social video platform for the past month, and which may only pick up steam as the world heads into spooky season.
The prank is pretty easy: you put a filter on your phone that shows a floating, transparent ghost with glowing red eyes — and that includes some pretty creepy evil laughter. Next, you tell your completely innocent kiddo that you want to show them something on your phone before you run away and close the door behind you.
While the results might be funny if you were playing it on a friend or an older child, TikTokers are subjecting toddlers and younger kiddos to the experience — with what are sometimes pretty heart-wrenching results.
The trend really blew up when TikTok influencer Naomi Neo — who boasts almost 2 million followers — tried the prank out on her four-year-old son Kyzo. The kid flipped out, but the video got 24 million views (and counting).
She received a lot of blowback from the video, with tons of people pointing out how genuinely scared her kid looked, but she was not fazed.
“Appreciate the advice, but let’s not tell a mom/dad what works best for their kids,” she wrote in the comments.
She also posted a second video, showing her family making light of the ghost.
She caption that video with, “I think that everyone has their own ideas of parenting, and how each child learns is different. I would never do anything to deliberately hurt my own child(ren). For us, it’s about having fun with guidance.”
Since then she’s posted more pranks with her young son, including one where she tells him that she forgot to purchase him a ticket for the family vacation. Yikes!
Other parents followed Naomi’s lead. One wrote, “My innocent, sweet baby did not deserve that🥲I cried after because that was mean😭 never again.”
Another wrote, “Scaring my innocent niece! We felt so bad after.”
Since the trend started, several child psychologists have weighed in on wether the prank is a good idea or whether you are screwing up your kid.
“I’m horrified, one therapist says. “Look at this poor little girl. As a trauma-informed therapists, I’m almost enraged at how many videos are under this sound. This is not a trend. We are literally traumatizing our children for views and clout.”
“If you are questioning if this is traumatizing, let’s go over the definition of trauma,” she continues. “Trauma literally is any stressful or terrifying event that is overwhelming, unpredictable, and and prolonged. If we think it is funny to post this on the internet, what else are we doing to our kids at home?”
Although this father summed it up best in his reaction video.
“When your child becomes a paranoid maniac and suffers from anxiety attacks and PTSD due to your stupidity in the name of having fun, then don’t blame anybody else exept your f—king self,” he says. “Relax, it’s just fun and games. I don’t think those children like those games. It’s clear on the faces of the children that they are absolutely terrified and believe that ghost is real. But I’m not going to trip over you too hard. What I know is that your mother and your grandmother did that to you. My grandmother used to tell me that when I was asleep Satan looked down on me. Think about how cruel that shit was for you. How about we try not to destroy the mental health of our children, being that they are already subjected to the disgusting-ass society that we live in. That sh-t is unacceptable.”
It’s hard to say it better than that.