Growing concern about new Internet craze called "planking"

"Planking" / Courtesy: Facebook via NY Daily News

There's concern about a growing Internet craze known as "planking."

It recently made headlines when a 20-year-old man plunged seven stories to his death from an apartment balcony in Australia. Police say he was "planking" at the time of the accident.

Planking is becoming increasingly popular in Australia. It involves people lying flat on their stomachs in strange and sometimes dangerous settings and then posting photos on the Internet. You can find all kinds of pictures online of people posing over railroad tracks, with their face down in water, even on top of cars.

We called around to several police agencies locally to find out if they knew about the trend. State police say they aren't aware of it and don't know of any problems with it locally.

The recent death of that young man has prompted the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to speak out saying, "There's a difference between a harmless bit of fun done somewhere that's really safe and taking a risk with your life. This is a really tragic thing. There would be a family that's just devastated today. A really tragic thing. So, my message would be, you know, everybody likes a bit of fun, but focus has to be on keeping yourself safe first."

A simple search online yields all kinds of information on "planking." There are several Facebook pages dedicated to "planking" and even how-to videos popping up on YouTube.

This article in an Australian newspaper features a psychologist who fears the police crackdown on "planking" will only lead to more deaths.

As you might expect, this issue has sparked tremendous debate online. One person writes, "people live selfish meaningless lives and then seek this "thrills" just to prove they are alive There is no end to human stupidity."

Another says, "I've done stupid things in the past as a teen and young adult - things I'm probably blessed to be alive. Now I have a son - and I read this and once again want to remind parents to teach their children well. Tell them they are loved and don't need to do stupid things like this to get attention or affection."

One reader thinks the laws need to change saying, "We should make it illegal." And yet another says, "oh please. there are already laws against trespassing, disorderly conduct, etc. The knee-jerk, "there should be a law" just pathetic. Let the idiots break the already existing laws."

Do you know anyone who has ever participated in "planking?" Do you think it's dangerous? Should it be illegal? Are you worried about copy cat cases? Leave your thoughts below.