You have seemingly seen a lot of tales in your information and social feeds concerning the risks of one thing referred to as The Momo Challenge. This normally accompanies a picture of a grotesque bird-head with warnings about youngsters being inspired to hurt or kill themselves.
I’ve spent the final two days speaking to lecturers, childcare professionals and on-line security specialists to resolve what dad and mom really want to learn about The Momo Challenge and what’s the perfect motion to take.
As I develop under, proof of direct hurt attributable to the sport is but to be discovered. It is actually a viral ghost story. Rather than sharing warnings that perpetuate and mythologize the story, a greater focus is nice constructive recommendation for youngsters, arrange know-how appropriately and take an curiosity of their on-line interactions.
What is Momo Challenge?
Chain letters have been with us because the mail existed. We know the way it goes. You obtain an nameless notice within the mail that threatens unhealthy luck or worse until you ship ten folks a duplicate of the letter.
Online chain letters speed up the unfold of those messages whereas additionally enabling ongoing forwards and backwards communication from the sender by shifting from letters to direct messaging. They additionally decrease the hassle required to participate, from printing, addressing and posting a letter to clicking a quantity to ship a Whatsapp or textual content.
With the Momo Challenge, contact is triggered by trying to find a particular telephone quantity on-line and sending a textual content or Whatsapp message. The participant enters right into a dialog that sends distressing pictures and goals to steer them to finish challenges starting from waking up at sure occasions to self-harm and even suicide.
What’s The Appeal?
Along with a development in scary video video games like Five Nights at Freddy’s, Granny, Slenderman and Bendy, and the Ink Machine, youngsters are drawn to the horror-taboo nature of the picture of the Momo character. Like the Killer Clowns development, these are the ghost tales of the digital age.
Playground chatter is amplified by YouTuber’s attempting out the Momo sport (or pretending to attempt it out) of their movies. Many of those movies really fail to make contact with Momo, and a few are intentional fakes.
Video video games that enable customization like Roblox and Minecraft are additionally seeing Momo themed costumes in video games being created and shared by different gamers. In flip, these are used to create extra YouTube movies, so the cycle continues.
Is It Real?
The picture and the story of kids harming themselves or their households is, after all, stunning. However, as ParentZone not too long ago highlighted, the variety of reported instances of kids harming themselves due to the sport is extraordinarily low. Even these instances which are linked within the media, of youngsters killing themselves in Asia and South America, are usually not suggesting the sport was the direct trigger.
Andy Phippen professor of social duty in IT at Plymouth University, informed me, “things like Momo become social media storms because folk are so keen to share. It’s a nasty looking image which looks scary, so, the gut feeling would be this would scare kids. But check the sources and the evidence trail soon runs dry. It’s viral content at the end of the day, propagating just adds fuel to the fire, and creates unfounded hysteria. Don’t believe everything you read online.”
I’ve spent a day attempting to contact the numbers discovered from Googling, however have to this point been unable to get a response from Momo. Additional analysis on websites like That’s Nonsense or Snopes affords the complete historical past and uncovers a transparent sample of viral slightly than actual hazard.
What’s the Danger?
Carmel Glassbrook, supervisor of Professionals Online Safety Helpline, informed me they’ve obtained calls on the subject of Momo, from faculties and native authorities and police. “The main problem”, she mentioned, “was not the phenomenon itself however that professionals and fogeys had been sharing Facebook posts about Momo with out checking on its validity. It has turn into a viral subject, based extra on scaremongering headlines than well-researched information.”
A BBC article concerning the Momo development shared police issues and linked the sport to “hackers”, though with out many particulars. While it’s attainable that hackers are utilizing a sport like this to accumulate data, the extent of information shared makes this unlikely.
The actual hazard, as highlighted by Glassbrook, is that carers and fogeys are distracted from the true problems with educating youngsters tips on how to safely thrive on-line whereas chasing viral shock-fads like this.
Staying Safe Online
Rather than warning youngsters about particular risks equivalent to Momo, dad and mom and professionals can higher assist youngsters by educating them good practices on-line.
It’s necessary that youngsters know that they shouldn’t be attempting to contact strangers on-line, whatever the methodology. Setting privateness programs on gadgets along with your little one is an effective way to have this dialog and agree on automated precautions.
“A much better approach,” mentioned Glassbrook, “is for professionals to focus on ensuring the door is open for children to talk about these kinds of issues and teaching good practice rather than telling them there’s a big red button they mustn’t push.”
Fostering an environment of openness and transparency about on-line exercise ensures that youngsters can thrive. If you do discover them switching screens on their gadgets when approached or new numbers or electronic mail addresses on their gadgets it is value checking in with them.
Keep video video games and YouTube watching, two main methods these tales flow into, in shared household areas. In video video games, it’s also possible to set-up restrictions on mates and accessing person generate content material that will embody Momo themed add ons.
YouTube has been marking movies together with Momo content material as being “identified by the YouTube community as inappropriate or offensive to some audiences”. And that “viewer discretion is advised”. If you might have Restricted mode on on your kid’s account this content material shouldn’t be obtainable to them.
Researching the subject was a bit of miserable, however as I dredged up all method of spoof or amped up Momo scare movies on YouTube I discovered one ray of hope from two women who not solely noticed by way of the viral-fad, but additionally supplied good recommendation “to not go behind your parents back” and never “watch videos because that’s what people who make the video want: views”.