YouTube Pranking Across Cultures

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Date of Original Version



Communication Studies


Online pranking videos are common online and popular among middle-school students, teens and young adults. When we examined 200 YouTube examples of the Scary Maze Game prank, we explored the relationship between perpetrator, victim and witness, finding that while American children under age 12 were commonly featured as victims in Scary Maze Game prank videos, only rarely were German children represented as victims. U.S. videos also lingered on the pain of prank victims, even looping the emotional response of the victim to create an instant replay effect and using post-production techniques, including editing, music and title credits. As an expression of the schadenfreude that people experience when both enacting and viewing bad pranks, online pranking is a dimension of the dark side of participatory culture.

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