A dangerous trend on social media reported to have caused serious injuries and at least one death has sparked fears more kids could face the same fate if it continues.
The “Skullbreaker” craze emerged on video sharing app TikTok and involves three people standing side-by-side tricking the middle person into jumping and having their legs kicked from underneath them.
Many injuries have reportedly been sustained by people who fell for the cruel prank overseas, with Brazilian TV station Costa Branca reporting that a 16-year-old girl died because of the prank in December.
A recent video taken at a school in Venezuela, South America, went viral after it showed a boy slamming into the concrete ground after two peers kicked his feet away.
Reports suggested the student ended up in intensive care due to the severity of the injuries he sustained, The Mirror reported.
Cyber safety experts are now warning of the grave risks associated with taking part in the challenge, with parents being encouraged to pay close attention to how their kids are using the app.
“It never ceases to amaze me the stupidity of people,” cyber safety expert Susan McLean told Yahoo News Australia.
“Parents need to be aware of what their kids are doing and they need to have conversations with them about what’s acceptable behaviour on the internet.”
Mrs McLean said the Skullbreaker challenge was far from the first social media trend to pose serious danger to the people who took part.
She referenced previous social media challenges involving people pouring ice on themselves, eating laundry detergent pods and using salt and ice to cause painful burns to the skin.
“Young people have always taken risks, but this is risk-taking at a whole new level,” she said.
“They have to understand that a lot of the stuff they see online is faked, and kids don’t discern about that as well.”
Mrs McLean urged those using social media to not participate in activities “that are likely going to cause you or someone else harm”.
Stunt could lead to criminal charges
“All you can do is have conversations with your children about their behaviour both on and offline – that’s your job as a parent, to make sure your children travel safely through life to the best of your ability.”
She warned those taking part in dangerous challenges of the potential there is for them to face criminal charges if they have a role in someone being seriously hurt or killed.
“You can be charged with recklessly or negligently causing injury – you can go to jail. Regardless of whether it’s your mate, you’re probably going to face charges if you inflicted that injury,” Mrs McLean said.
“Don’t be a sheep and follow what people are doing online if it’s dumb and dangerous.”
TikTok parties becoming a danger in themselves
Yasmin London, executive directer at cyber safety education provider Ysafe, told Yahoo News Australia children hosting and attending TikToks parties were also becoming a concerning trend.
She said these were troublesome because the “entire party revolves around taking these videos” and often involved children under age 13 who don’t always get permission from their parents.
“It’s causing problems in terms of privacy for people. Kids are going to parties whose parents may not know that all of these TikTok videos are being uploaded to that platform without their knowledge,” Ms London said.
She added that any social media app showing content of children and in some cases, paid content, made it a target for online predators.
“Kids can get paid for their performances by adults and people they don’t know and that obviously leads down a pretty dangerous path.
“There’s a number of issues when we have young children on platforms that, while they might appear fun, can have some dangerous implications.”
In the wake of serious injuries being reported from people using the app, some TikTok users have taken it upon themselves to share videos urging people to stop taking part in the Skullbreaker challenge.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.