You have probably heard about the Momo Challenge through traditional media and social media in recent weeks.
The challenge has often been reported as the Momo Suicide Challenge alleging that children and young people are contacted by a mysterious character called Momo and have to participate in several online challenges with the last challenge being to commit suicide. It is reported that if they fail to complete the challenges they are threatened and receive abusive communication from Momo including phone calls. This is very reminiscent of another challenge that was reported and shared in a similar way about 18 months ago called the Blue Whale suicide game that was proved to be a hoax.
There are also many YouTube videos about Momo that have gone viral.
Several newspapers in South America and India are linking some child suicides to the game but there appears to be no concrete evidence within the news articles to prove the ‘challenge’ has led directly to their suicides. There have been other reports of the Momo challenge appearing in other countries but again no evidence to suggest that the challenges are originating from the same source and therefore there is no one organisation or person controlling the Momo Challenge globally as often reported in the press.
The image of Momo has gone viral in recent months creating an ‘urban legend’ of who Momo is and what Momo is doing. It is clear that many people are responding to the Momo images and memes to create their own stories and accounts of interactions with Momo. It is likely that some people have recreated their own version of the alleged challenge to scare / intimidate friends or other people by using the image, creepy voices, videos etc. and share it via social media. There are reports that this is occurring through social media sites including WhatsApp and Facebook.
From an online safety point of view it would be prudent to remind parents and children what to do if they come across upsetting or threatening content distributed online or through messaging apps. At the same time, reassure them that the alleged Momo Challenge (whereby young people have to complete a set of extreme challenges or something terrible will happen to them) is not real and they are not in any danger.
Encourage children / parents to do the following:
- Adults, check to see if your child is accessing age appropriate Apps, sites and content.
- Ensure that any privacy settings available are suitably configured
- If a child comes across any content that is upsetting or threatening then ensure they know to report it immediately to a trusted adult.
- If necessary, the child or child and adult together can report and block the user where the communication originated.
- If the content originated from somebody the child knows then the child or child and adult together can make them aware of how the content has been upsetting and ask them to refrain from sharing such content in the future.
- As a parent, if your child has made you aware of content that you feel provides a threat to your child’s safety then report it to the police or CEOP.
- Ensure your child is very careful whom they connect with online and whom they share personal information with, it is always a good idea to check with a trusted adult first.
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