THE internet‚Äôs latest viral trend, the ‚Äúinvisible prank‚ÄĚ, is as ridiculous as it sounds.
It started with Netflix‚Äôs new reality show Magic for Humans, where host and magician Justin Willman successfully convinced an adult man that he had turned invisible.
Then popular American YouTube star David Dobrik ‚ÄĒ he has almost nine million subscribers ‚ÄĒ attempted the same trick on a friend‚Äôs younger brother.
Dobrik‚Äôs video has 16 million views on Twitter and another five million on YouTube. The boy‚Äôs age is not disclosed the video, but he appears to be of primary school age.
The prank involves doing a few things to try to convince the child that they‚Äôre ‚Äúinvisible‚ÄĚ, including covering them in a sheet, removing it, then reacting with shock that the child is now ‚Äúinvisible‚ÄĚ.
It also involves pre-planning a photo without the child in an attempt to convince them that they don‚Äôt show up in pictures.
Once the child is present, the family pretends to take a photo with the child. But when it comes time to show the picture, they produce the first ‚Äúfake‚ÄĚ photo‚ÄĚ without the child in it.
Dobrik‚Äôs video has taken off online, with many families creating copycat versions of their own.
While many clips show adult family members roaring with laughter at the child‚Äôs confusion, others show young kids bursting into tears, clearly distressed and upset.
Makayla Cunningham, an American 18-year-old, tested out Dobrik‚Äôs prank on her 11-year-old sister and got her whole family on board.
‚ÄúI saw a video that David Dobrik posted of him doing the same thing to another little boy and my friend sent it to me and said that we should do it to my little sister Ava,‚ÄĚ Cunningham told Buzzfeed.
The video shows Ava screaming and falling to the floor in hysterics after believing that she is truly invisible. It‚Äôs been viewed 13 million times.
‚ÄúWhen she started to get really emotional we stopped the prank immediately, my heart dropped, and we hugged on her and told her it was OK,‚ÄĚ Cunningham said.
She said after Ava realised the whole thing had been a prank, she began ‚Äúlaughing hysterically‚ÄĚ and her family, ‚ÄúOK, you guys did a great job‚ÄĚ.
‚ÄúShe is totally fine, and is still her happy energetic self,‚ÄĚ Cunningham said.
But many on social media argued the viral trend could harm young children.
‚ÄúCan someone explain to me why making a child violently sob with a prank is funny?‚ÄĚ one woman wrote on Twitter. ‚ÄúThis invisible thing going around, all I‚Äôve seen is kids getting really upset, I can‚Äôt be the only one that doesn‚Äôt think a kid crying is funny?‚ÄĚ
Another person wrote: ‚ÄúInteresting how frightening the life out of a child and laughing about it has become the new ‚Äėchallenge‚Äô.‚ÄĚ
Child psychologist Dr Fiona Martin from the Sydney Child Psychology Centre says this was a dangerous trend.
‚ÄúThis seems to be causing children unnecessary distress and for what for? For what reason? Anything that creates distress in a child can‚Äôt be good for them, particularly when it‚Äôs not necessary,‚ÄĚ Dr Martin told news.com.au.
‚ÄúThere are plenty of ways to provide a stimulating environment for your children. You could go and play sport with them, you can do creative artwork with them‚ÄĚ Dr Martin said.
‚ÄúThis kind of thing is not really providing any cognitive or developmental benefit.‚ÄĚ