In response to problems with ‘MOMO’ from children and parents we are sharing this information with you to help keep children safe online.
FROM THE PARENTZONE WEBSITE:
While scrolling through the news or social media, you may have glanced an image depicting a stretched, disfigured face with bulging eyes and a large smile, attached to a bird’s body. This freakish creature has become the mascot for an obscure urban myth called the Momo Challenge, a game which allegedly encourages children to perform acts of self-harm. There is currently a lot of misleading information swirling around the web about the challenge and it can be difficult to separate fact from myth. In this article, we answer some of the questions you may have about the Momo Challenge.
What is the Momo Challenge?
The Momo Challenge is a game played over WhatsApp where participants contact the character Momo and are then told to do a series of challenges, with the final challenge allegedly being suicide.
How do children get to know about it?
Despite people having to use WhatsApp to partake in the challenge, that is not how most people find out about it. Many prominent YouTubers create videos of themselves trying to reach out to Momo which gets many views through, for example, sharing on social media.
Why would children be drawn to it?
Children who see their favourite YouTuber doing the challenge might be drawn to trying it themselves in order to follow their example. It should be noted that a lot of the people making videos about this are capitalizing on the mysticism surrounding the challenge and might be deliberately trying to blow it out of proportion to add drama.
Do I need to worry about it?
Although a lot of the information about the Momo Challenge is rather concerning, the number of reported cases of children harming themselves because of the game is extremely low. The challenge has alleged ties to three cases of teens killing themselves in Asia and South America, but there is nothing that proves that it was the direct cause.
How do I keep children safe from it?
Make sure that they know that they should not be trying to contact strangers via social media platforms and instant messaging apps. It could be useful to show them how to enable privacy settings and disable location sharing so that they don’t fall victims to scams.
FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST
Here is an article that unpicks the ‘Momo Challenge’ without sensationalizing the issue. It is worth a read but if you do not have time then please consider some of the advice that has been extracted from the article below.
FROM WIRRAL SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN BOARD
The Momo Challenge – Information for Parents and ProfessionalsSimilar to the Blue Whale Challenge, the Momo Challenge…
TIPS FOR PARENTS
If you’re a parent, you’ll undoubtedly worry about the effects of the rumours about ‘Momo’. And whether it’s real or not, it can still be extremely scary for your kids. So, what do you do about it? Here are six ideas:
Do Your Research
According to Adele Jennings, who writes the Our Family Life blog, which has been shared by the website Internet Matters, online games and social media companies need to do more, but as parents, we have to “find out and learn more about what our children are getting up to while online”. So, do your research, as much as you are able. Find out what your child is looking at, and judge for yourself if it’s appropriate.
Talk To Your Child
“Only by talking to them, and knowing how to block and report inappropriate content can we start to make a difference, but we have to do our homework,” Jennings writes. If you’re struggling to work out how to have that conversation, look at Thinkuknow. The website is connected to police and CEOP and offers advice that’s targeted appropriately to the age of your child.
Take Them Seriously
If your child is scared, it can be counterproductive to dismiss those fears and risk invalidating their feelings. It doesn’t matter if the fear is real or proportionate if it’s scaring your child, it’s worth listening – really listening. And sometimes, if they feel heard, they’ll feel better. CforCat – a platform dedicated to early childhood development – advises acknowledging their feelings, giving them permission to feel that way and inviting them to discuss what they’re thinking about.
It can be hard keeping up with which app, game or social messaging service your kids are using. If you want the latest on the latest technology, consider checking out parentzone – the experts on family digital life. There are sections ranging from explaining the game Fortnite, to what game age ratings really mean and how to achieve a digital detox.
Make Informed Decisions
If you care about gender stereotyping or want to weed out content that depicts violence or bad language, check out Common Sense Media. It watches online media and content for you and provides advice, reviews, and trigger warnings.
Report Any Serious Risk of Harm
Take a look at the CEOP online safety centre. You can make a report to one of CEOP’s Child Protection Advisors if you are worried about online sexual abuse, or the way someone has been communicating with your child online.