The ‘Momo Challenge’ is making the rounds across social media once more, after going viral in early 2016. I have received several phone calls and Facebook messages from parents extremely concerned after learning that their children have been watching Youtube videos of the “Momo Challenge.”
What is the Momo Challenge?
The challenge stems from a ‘Mother Bird’ sculpture fashioned by Japanese artist Keisuke Aisawa in 2016, which some malicious suspects are utilizing on Youtube, Facebook, and Whatsapp to convince children to self-harm.
Similar to other chain-mail schemes, recipients of a Momo message, are encouraged to undertake various tasks to avoid a potential ‘curse.’ Some of these tasks escalate to include self-harm and generally end with Momo asking children to commit suicide. Given the challenge’s mysterious origins and the unreliability of news reports linking it to actual harm, some question whether it’s simply another one of the many hoaxes that propagate on the Internet.
Officials in multiple countries believe Momo’s final challenge is suicide and the game is rumored to be linked to at least three recent cases of minors who killed themselves in Argentina, Colombia, and India. I have not found credible cases of children in the United States who have hurt themselves after watching the Momo videos. Regardless, it is creepy to be sure and concerning. Very young children who are seeing these videos are understandably scared and confused. Teens are less likely to look at this as anything more than a boogeyman story or another in an ongoing trend in scary video games like Five Nights at Freddy’s, Granny, Slenderman and Bendy, and the Ink Machine. Children are drawn to the horror-taboo nature of the image of the Momo character. Like the Killer Clowns trend, these are the ghost stories of the digital age.
What Parents Should Do
Parents and educators can better help children by teaching them safe practices online and limiting their access to media that is not age appropriate for them.
Most children are learning about the Momo Challenge on Youtube. Youtube has horrible parental controls. You can try to filter inappropriate videos using their Restricted Mode, but you will quickly learn it is not effective. I strongly suggest parents do not let their children access Youtube under the age of 12-years-old. Youtube can be blocked through your router by using a free service like OpenDNS.com. The mobile app should be deleted from their mobile devices and blocked from being downloaded from the app store with a password that only the parent knows.
- Go to a free parent seminar hosted at a nearby school. This seminar will change the way you look at your child’s digital world and give you a step-by-step game plan to make your child safe. If you would like to host a parent seminar at your school, fill out the contact form to learn more.
- Purchase the book, “Parenting in the Digital World”. It will take you step-by-step through the process of making your child safer online.
- Stay on top of the latest online trends by subscribing to our free e-newsletter.
- Install Bark on your child’s phone. Bark will passively monitor your child’s social media and let you know if there is a problem. Use the promo code, “cybersafetycop” to get 15% off.
Don’t Panic, What Parents Really Need To Know About ‘Momo Challenge’. (2019). Forbes.com. Retrieved 27 February 2019, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/andyrobertson/2019/02/27/dont-panic-what-parents-really-need-to-know-about-momo-challenge/#1c5671233a4b
What is the disturbing ‘Momo Challenge’ – and why is it resurfacing?. (2019). Dexerto.com – Esports & Gaming. Retrieved 27 February 2019, from https://www.dexerto.com/entertainment/what-is-the-disturbing-momo-challenge-and-why-is-it-resurfacing-405688
The ‘Momo Challenge’: A sinister threat to young people or an urban myth?