Every now and then late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel asks parents to prank their own kids, video tape it and post the results to You Tube. Since 2011, he has been asking parents to pretend that they have eaten all their kids’ Halloween candy and then tape their reaction.
Often the kids cry and scream and are pretty upset that their Halloween candy is all gone. Kimmel has also asked parents to give their kids terrible Christmas presents and pick out horrible fake first-day of school outfits.
The videos are wildly popular on his show and on You Tube. The post-Halloween videos have been viewed more than 106 million times online since 2011.
But now psychologists are saying these pranks are not fun and games and can truly harm a child’s trust in their parent.
“Pranking your own children is not harmless fun, but is cruel and potentially damaging,” said Mark Barnett, a professor and graduate program coordinator at Kansas State University’s department of psychological sciences. A child’s trust in his parents shouldn’t be trifled with, he said.
“A parent who would violate this trust for a big laugh or 15 minutes of fame is, in my opinion, acting irresponsibly and not looking out for the best interests of the child,” Barnett said.
No one from Kimmel’s show, broadcast on a network owned by the traditionally kid-friendly Walt Disney Co., was available to comment, representatives said Wednesday. A YouTube posting of Kimmel’s on-air highlights was viewed more than 7 million times through late Wednesday, with more than 45,000 giving it a “thumbs up” and 2,191 offering a “thumbs down.”…
Kimmel said this year he received an “avalanche” of great responses and it took much of last weekend to work through them all.
This year’s videos include two blond boys who break out in uncontrolled tears when their father tells them, “it’s all gone.” An empty candy wrapper is on the table in front of them.
One girl, still in costume, tells her mother that “you ruined my whole day.”
Children throw stomping tantrums, one so vigorous the toddler’s pants fall down. One angry girl throws an envelope at her parents. Another bawling child is hardly mollified by news that it’s a prank: “Well, that’s not very kind,” the boy said.
Kimmel’s studio audience laughs at most of the reactions.
Jane Annunziata, a McLean, Va.-based psychologist who deals with family issues and is the author of the book, “Sometimes I’m Scared…,” said she thought the prank was inappropriate parental behavior.
“Parents should always serve as role models for their children, role modeling most appropriate behaviors and the most constructive ways to express feelings,” Annunziata said.
Kimmel, 46, said on the air two years ago when introducing the first round of stolen candy videos that “I guess I didn’t expect so much crying” in response.
“To the children whose fears are about to be immortalized on television, I apologize in advance,” he said.”
My husband watched the Kimmel show Wednesday night and reports that Dr. Phil was giving Jimmy are hard time about the prank. He also said that Kimmel said his mom used to pretend to be dead. I think that explains a lot about why Kimmel would think the Halloween candy being gone is funny.
So what do you think: Are these types of pranks all in good fun and funny or could they really decay the trust your children have in you?
Have you ever pranked your kids? Did your parents ever play pranks on you? What do you think of Jimmy’s mom faking her own death?