BLOG

Current, VALUABLE INSIGHTS
& HELPFUL INFORMATION

(FOR STUDENTS, TEACHERS, PARENTS & BUSINESSES)

GET free advice & TIPS

To protect and enhance your business

Privacy Policy

Momo Challenge Helpful Information

MThanks to media attention and (understandably panicking) parents and adults – the Momo image is everywhere now.

We considered this blog for a week now, not wanting to add to any sensationalism or scaremongering – but we’ve been contacted by so many parents on the issue of Momo it’s warranted now. 

We’ve been here before with the Blue Whale Challenge and will unfortunately be here again. As parents you are the first line of defence against activity of this nature online and hopefully the first to reassure your children they can be protected against this kind of harm. A calm, careful, considered and age-appropriate approach is needed in discussing Momo with children and teenagers.  It won’t be the last of its type while social media and tech companies facilitate the spread of this type of harmful material by users who at best have  nothing much better to do and at worst enjoy creating and sharing traumatic content.

So is the Momo Challenge real or an urban legend?

<

HOW DID IT START?

Momo started in Mexico August 2016 and like the Blue Whale Challenge is being shared worldwide.

WHERE IS IT FOUND?

Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and Youtube and Youtube Kids. Momo content has also found its way onto games Grand Theft Auto, Roblox and Minecraft.  Many prominent You Tubers are also creating and sharing videos relating to contacting Momo, though some are helping children understand Momo is not real.  

REPORTS OF SUICIDE AND SELF HARM

There have been reports of Momo-related suicides in Columbia, Argentina, India and Turkey. None of these have been proven as yet.  I understand this is not reassuring. 

WHAT IS IT?

It is reputed to be a Dare-type Challenge game or character on an existing game such as Grand Theft Auto where the disturbing woman-bird avatar Momo challenges you to complete tasks over a short time period. The challenges start off simply enough, asking you to watch a horror film, wake up in the middle of the night or play music loudly then are purported to progress to the avatar persuading you to self-harm and a final command to commit suicide.

The PSNI, Garda and police, schools and authorities worldwide have issued warnings over their concerns. 

Police in Yellowstone USA say one child was told his friends would be killed if he did not complete the tasks. A mum from Bolton, Manchester took to social media to warn parents that her son and some of his classmates were terrified that ‘Momo was going to go into their room at night and kill them’.  A grandfather reported on Lunchtime Live Ireland that his 4 year old grandson had tried to open a bottle of tablets as instructed by Momo and not to tell his mummy first.  Fox News said Momo is ‘also linked to the theft of personal data, harassment, extortion, anxiety, depression and insomnia’.  

There has been widespread criticism of social media and tech giants who have failed to stamp out the game. Lunchtime Live also discussed the strong language used in the latest UK government report being in direct contrast to Ireland’s softly- softly approach to social media and tech giant’s activities.

I’ve said this before. Algorithms are created to allow users to search and find information. Therefore algorithms can be used to search, find and remove this type of harmful material.

FINAL NOTE

Listening to Lunchtime Live yesterday where acclaimed cyber psychologist and author of ‘The Cyber Effect’ Dr Mary Aiken shared here insights on Momo saying ‘anything that the garda are issuing a warning on is something that should be taken seriously’. Dr Aiken then made a very valid point:  

‘Irrespective of Blue Whale or Momo,..  is that there’s a much bigger issue, that of general child safety – and accountability of these social media platforms that facilitate this type of activity’.   

Dr Aiken is currently working with DCMS on a bill making it an offence to distribute, encourage or incite harmful material and self-harm practices online, for free or commercial purposes – introducing new legislation which will make the social media, search and tech giants who ‘allow this content to thrive and are actively involved in the distribution of this material’, more accountable by law. As, she goes on to say ‘self regulation is not working’. Good luck with pushing this through Mary!

GENERAL ADVICE

  • Install good parental controls
  • Do not assume that any game or channel such as You Tube Kids is Momo/other harmful material-free
  • Look out for secretive or out of character behaviour
  • Monitor what your children are doing online as much as possible.
  • Tell children why they should not give out personal information or friend anyone they don’t know, particularly while this is doing the rounds
  • Talk to your children about the risks of dare-based challenges.
  • Enable privacy settings and keep them up to date.

Advice for Parents of children and teenagers who have encountered Momo or other harmful material:

Children and Younger Teenagers

Talk to them about what they can come across. In an age appropriate way, help them understand that while the world is full of good people, there are bad people online who want to harm children and that they may make threats. The Momo character is not real and the threats are not real.  The best way to avoid this situation is to avoid talking to strangers online – But crucially if they do find themselves in this type of situation they should come to you.  You won’t be angry. You will help them or find someone who can. 

Teenagers

Discuss without panic.  Teenagers have a pre-disposition for risk, Momo is a talking point and thrill seeking activity and they need to think critically about whether they want to be involved in something that could potentially cause themselves or other’s harm. There are no productive outcomes with horror games and they can be traumatising. Maybe it’s time to pursue more positive and constructive online activities.

NB: News and media outlets, including ourselves have a responsibility to ensure children and young people are not exposed to excessive imagery and sensationalism around topics like Momo.  The image itself is pretty scary for adults – while some teenagers may find it funny or thrilling, it can also be terrifying for kids.  We all need to consider how we share and discuss this topic.

Take care online,

Wayne

Found this article useful?

Remember to share it with your family & friends.

Wayne Denner shares his knowledge & expertise on leading tech industry blog.

Read Now

ZERO
LIVES
LEFT

Business, Career & Life Podcast