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The dark side of chasing internet fame

Last Updated Feb 14, 2020 at 11:07 am PDT

CALGARY (CityNews) – The thrill of a glamorous life online has a lot of young people trying to turn it into a career, but there’s a dark side to chasing internet fame.

CityNews brought you the story of the latest social media trend, “The Skull Breaker” challenge on TikTok. That’s where kids trick their friends and trip them, sending them crashing to the ground, sometimes leading to serious head injuries.

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“It turns out that some of the kids that got tricked into the prank knew exactly what was going to happen,” said Kelly Schwartz with the University of Calgary. “So, those kids are also deciding to be part of the prank knowing they’re going to be hurt, possibly, they’re going to be publicly humiliated and shamed.”

A 2019 survey of 3,000 kids aged 8-12 found that when asked if they’d like to be an astronaut, musician, professional athlete, teacher or YouTuber when they grow up, 30 per cent of American and U.K. kids said YouTuber.

In China, 56 per cent said astronaut with vlogger coming in last.

“Fortunately or unfortunately there’s a market for that,” Schwartz said. “Social media gives the impression that we don’t necessarily have to be good at something, we just have to be seen doing something that a lot of people want to see.”

With so many young people wanting to make a career out of online videos, they may feel they need to go to extreme lengths to stand out, even if it means risking serious injury.

Last week, a Montreal woman made headlines after grabbing the tailgate of a bus as it drove away.

The bus surfer video quickly went viral on social media.

WATCHMontreal woman speaks out about ‘bus surfer’ video

“To me, getting all this attention, it doesn’t really matter,” said Cassandre Thomas, the woman behind the bus surfer video. “I only think that it’s good because it can help me actually with getting to where I want to get in the future. It could get me attention from producers and stunt co-ordinators; some people who I’d like to work with.”

Montreal police have denounced that video calling it extremely dangerous.

Thomas could face a fine between $1,000 and $3,000.

Another recent viral post saw a Canadian vlogger pretend he had coronavirus while onboard a flight from Toronto to Jamaica.

The flight turned back to Toronto where the man, James Potok. was arrested and charged with mischief.

Potok said he did the stunt in the hopes of posting it to Instagram for publicity.