The Viral “Egg Crack Challenge”: How Social Media Has Deprived us of Empathy

Have you seen the “egg crack challenge” on TikTok? If not, you can see a compilation video here. To set the stage for those who don’t want to watch the video: a parent sets up a camera, tells their child they’re going to “bake something” together, and when it’s time to crack the egg for the recipe, the parent cracks it on the kid’s forehead.

I hate this trend so much.

Listen, I try not to judge other parents. Raising kids is hard, and we are always making mistakes. And even among those of us who are doing our very best to make the right decisions, we will often disagree on what is “right.” So, I find judging parents to be a pretty worthless and unfair endeavor. That said, I do think it’s important to call out willfully harmful behavior from parents toward their children — especially when that behavior is rooted in TikTok virality, likes, and views.

I can already hear someone saying to themselves, “it’s just a silly prank, calm down!” So, just to get us on the same page here, let me explain why I don’t think this “prank” is silly.

The prank begins with a parent misleading their child, luring them into a sense of play and safety by telling them they’re going to bake together. The world will deceive children enough. I don’t think it’s the role of parents to participate in misleading our children. Our job should be about developing trust. And although, yes, we do mislead when it comes to things like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, I find those things to be substantially different. One is telling your children a mythical creature is giving them presents when, really, it’s you. The other is telling your children they’re about to do something fun with you and then doing something to hurt them instead. Not the same.

After falsely gaining the child’s trust, the parent goes on to betray that trust. The child, who most likely was very excited to get to do something fun with mom or dad, then has to discover that they’re not actually getting to cook. It’s a prank, a joke. And they’re the butt of it.

It actually takes quite a bit of effort to crack an egg on a cushioned surface like a forehead. It doesn’t appear to me that most of these parents tried cracking an egg on their own forehead first to see how it feels. They don’t know how much force to use, and I’ve seen many children cry out in pain after the parent uses way more force than necessary to get the egg to crack.

After the pain, then comes the humiliation. Probably the most heartbreaking part of this trend is that after the shock wears off, we see the children look into the camera and realize they were being filmed. Realization dawns on their faces as they watch their parent hee-haw on the front-camera screen, and they come to understand that they were set up to be humiliated.

As if that humiliation isn’t enough, the parent goes on to post the video on the internet for the entire world to see. Meme farms have already begun compiling videos of kids’ reactions to the Egg Crack challenge and sharing them all over the internet. Who knows how long those videos will live online. Those kids could not consent to those videos being posted, even if they told their parents they didn’t mind. Children that young cannot yet understand the long-term impact of having videos like that of themselves living on the internet for eternity.

Lastly, I’d wager that every single one of those parents would scold or discipline their children if they saw one of them crack an egg on their sibling’s head. And yet, because this is a “prank” and it’s being filmed for TikTok, and it’s a parent doing it to a child, somehow that makes it okay.

Given all of that, I will not be entertaining the argument that this is a “silly joke” that we’re supposed to respond to with good humor.

As I said at the beginning of this article, I’m not interested in shaming the parents who are doing this trend. Rather, I’d like to shame the mechanisms that have enabled and encouraged this kind of behavior from what I will (as a matter of good faith) assume are otherwise loving and responsible parents.

The allure of internet virality has deprived us of our empathy. It has bled us dry of our humanity and left us instead with the thirst for praise and attention. That’s not to say that we, as a species, don’t naturally desire those things. We all want praise and attention, that much is a given. But the promise of fame, clout, and wealth that come from internet virality have given legs to those ambitions in a truly disturbing way.

The temptation to seek attention and praise online has subtly dimmed our capacity for genuine empathy. In our drive to attract likes, shares, and comments, we often end up valuing sensationalism and shock value over human connection. We seem to be willing to stop at nothing, even betraying our own children, in our pursuit of these things.

What’s worse is that, even if we are not the ones creating this type of content, we certainly absorb it. We give it our attention, whether it’s because we find it funny or are outraged by it. And because algorithms are designed to bolster content that receives the most attention, this is the type of content that ends up going viral.

To that end, all of the beautiful, inspiring, educational content that people pour their heart into, that would actually spark empathy and humanity in us all, is left in the shadows. It goes unseen, unheard. Utterly unremarkable.

We are so lost if we feel that humiliating our children is the appropriate response to our desire for attention and praise. We have gotten our priorities mixed up, and it’s our children who suffer. If there is any good that comes of the Egg Crack challenge, I hope it’s that it serves as a wake up call. I hope it sheds light on the impact that social media is having on humanity, on our ability to prioritize what matters, and on our empathy for the people in our care.

Otherwise, it’s just another prank trend with children as the butt of the joke.

I’d like to thank Amanda K. for suggesting the Egg Crack challenge as the topic for this blog!


Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.

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