(NEXSTAR) — Just about everything has trended on TikTok — dances, clothing styles, even financial advice. But one of the platform’s latest jokes has some worried about potential damage it could be doing to unsuspecting tots.
You’ve likely seen the innocent-intentioned videos: A parent, usually a mother, is in the kitchen cooking with her child. As ingredients go into the mix one-by-one, out of nowhere, the mom cracks an egg on the child’s head.
The children’s reactions vary. While some certainly do understand their mom’s joke, some videos show kids — many toddler-aged — either confused or upset at the unexpected hit.
Despite the trend’s popularity (#eggcrack has 233M views, while #eggprank has 681M views), many online worry the prank could be humiliating children for social media likes, in addition to unintentionally creating feelings of instability between parent and child. Many TikTok users spoke out this week about the potential harmful effects, including possible injuries that could happen.
One such TikToker is North Carolina-based pediatric occupational therapist Amanda Mathers. Through her TikTok account, @yourpediatricot, Mathers gives advice and insight to over 53,000 followers on topics like child motor skills and potty training. Days ago, Mathers posted a video explaining why the “egg crack” trend needs to be flushed down the drain.
“You are teaching them that hitting someone in the head — hard — with an object is acceptable and funny. Not only that, but the worst part is that most of you watched your child respond and cry in response to embarrassment and pain and you laughed in their face,” Mathers explains in her video “My Reaction to Egg Crack Prank.” In the video, she further opines that the challenge is similar to “bullying behavior” and could influence children to bully others or feel less comfortable speaking up if they are physically bullied.
Mathers’ video generated over 1 million views in just days, with many commenters thanking her for a professional point of view. One parent replied with her own workaround, saying, “I hated it [the trend] immediately. I ASKED if they wanted to be silly and crack them on our heads. They loved it.” Mathers responded to the comment positively, acknowledging that consent and context (“letting them know something funny is coming”) can help shift the interaction.
This workaround is echoed by TikToker @thymeandtenderness, whom 212,400 followers turn to for homemaking and cleaning advice from a stay-at-home mom’s perspective. As an alternative to the trend, she posted a video offering a “better” prank, earning nearly 188,900 views.
The alternative proposed by @thymeandtenderness shifts the brunt of the joke from the child to the parent, as she cracks the egg on her own head and laughs, prompting her child to do the same.
“I love this version sooooooooo much better! Plus I get to be silly mommy which cracks them up,” one follower replied.
For her part, Mathers offers other silly alternatives, as seen in her follow-up video “How to have fun with your kid without cracking an egg on their head.” These include placing items on your head and letting them fall off — again, the adult is the focus of the “joke.”
Putting aside the potential emotional side effects of the prank, other professionals have expressed worry over possible immediate injuries the trend could pose to kids, including bruising and contamination.
“We’re literally smacking salmonella on their foreheads,” Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital pediatric emergency medical physical Dr. Meghan Martin told NBC News. “It’s harder to get a toddler to drink fluids when they’ve got a stomach bug or food poisoning, and so they’re more likely to end up in the hospital for IV fluids.”
While it’s impossible to know how every child will react to the crack, the professional opinion appears to be one of careful consideration before trying the trend.
TikToker Dr. Kristyn Sommer, who specializes in child development psychology, urged parents to reconsider how they utilize the trend, if at all. In her demonstration for a kinder and gentler egg crack, she warns: “When we’re playing with our kids, consent or assent are always required, otherwise we can inadvertently become our children’s first bully.”