Please don't drop your pets onto cameras for likes
Children and teenagers are being encouraged to endanger their beloved pets and themselves in risky new crazes on social media site TikTok.
Cats, dogs, hamsters, rats and even a cup full of goldfish can be seen falling towards a camera on the ground after being dropped by their young owners taking part in the "you've seen it with glitter" video challenge.
A spin-off from a trend where users spill glitter in slow motion over their smartphone camera below, TikTok fans worldwide have created a similar riskier version where they drop all kinds of objects including pets to try and get likes.
RSPCA NSW Chief Inspector Scott Meyers has condemned the app's latest craze as "concerning" and warned Australian children and teens who jump on the bandwagon that they "could be committing an animal cruelty offence".
"To pick an animal up and deliberately drop it is concerning," Inspector Meyers said.
"Our concern is when these sorts of trends pop up that animals could be injured … animals are exposed to concussions and fractures, as well as being completely frightened. Small animals have fragile bones, and dropping them onto hard surfaces could quite easily injure them."
"When these sorts of trends pop up animals could be injured and if they are injured through fault of the owner they could be committing an offence. We want people to be responsible and not put their animals at risk by following a silly trend."
"You've seen it with glitter" follows other dangerous TikTok trends such as the Skullbreaker challenge, a jumping game where a person's legs are kicked out from under them by people on either side, sending them falling headfirst to the ground. A number of teenagers overseas have been injured after attempting the trend, prompting Adelaide school Mark Oliphant College to warn parents about kids re-enacting the challenge.
Parenting expert and author Dr Justin Coulson said that young people's brains are wired to "ignore or minimise the potential downside or risk" of dangerous behaviour when there is the promise of a reward like social recognition.
"The promise of a reward clouds perspective … teenagers are heavily influenced and likely to follow their friends even if their friends are doing unsafe or unwise things," Dr Coulson said.
"Watching (other user's videos) normalises the behaviour, affects their beliefs about the behaviour and once their beliefs have been changed, they're much more like to be open to enacting what they've seen."
Dr Coulson encouraged parents to discuss safe social media use with their kids to prevent copycat behaviour.
"(Kids) are designed to see approval and status among their peers," he said.
"What we need to do is talk to them about what they're seeing and experiencing. We need to explore the digital world with them and empower them to make safe decisions."