Police are warning children and parents about a "catastrophic" new internet craze ad that sees youngsters attempt to hide out in shopping centres, stores and warehouses overnight.

The 24-hour Challenge is the latest viral contest to be glamourise dangerous and potentially deadly behaviour among young people.

Several prominent Youtubers have filmed themselves hiding out in commercial spaces overnight, then posted the footage to their millions of followers.

One such prankster, Jordan Houston, has produced a variety of 24-hour-challenge videos, including overnight stays in a Tesco and a Toys R Us.

"I don't know what to film other than aisles," Houston remarks in his Toys R Us production.

"There's nothing to film – no alarms – no anything – we seem to be chilling," the 'Youtube personality' adds.

The video has been viewed by almost 1.5 million people, presumably children. Now it appears that videos like this may have influenced youngsters to take part in their own 24-hour challenges.

Eleven-year-old Kaden Mirza from Sheffield did not return home from school earlier this month, sending his family into a panic. Fearing the worst, his father Abid had no choice but to call the police.

To everyone's relief, Kaden returned safe and sound the next morning – he had been taking part in the 24-hour Challenge at a local Ikea store.

"We have been through a very rough time in the last 24 hours. I hope no parents go through this. I just don't have the words to describe what to say," Abid told the Yorkshire Post.

"We as a family are very grateful to everyone who helped out in any way, we have been through very, very hard time," he added.

In a statement following Abid's disappearance, South Yorkshire Police Detective Inspector Anna Sedgwick urged children to think twice before attempting the challenge.

She said: "To many young people this internet craze may seem like a bit of fun that is impressive on social media, however the risks and harm that could be caused are by no means humorous and could be catastrophic."

"Warehouses and shopping departments contain large quantities of heavy stock and items that could easily fall and crush someone if they are moved incorrectly, or used to build makeshift forts. There is also the potential risk of electrical faults and fires, which could have devastating consequences.

"As well as the safety risk, children often do this without the knowledge of their parents, which could lead to large scale searches or even cause them to be reported as missing. This not only causes fear and worry for parents, friends, family and the local community but can also be a waste of valuable police time, which may be needed to respond to a life or death situation."