Momo talk? Remain calm. Monitor your kids’ net usage & re-educate your teens on net safety
Welcome to the 1980s Dungeons & Dragons-equivalency of the 21st century — with a more serious twist: The Internet.
Educate both yourself & your kids. Be diligent. Talk to your young children about internet safety, and talk to/remind your teenagers about being internet smart & peer smart.
I ‘m about 108.7% positive that by now, you’ve more than likely heard about it, read about it, & seen it literally everywhere on your social media this past week:
“Violent viral Internet Challenge targets children”
Thanks to viral “trendy” websites, Facebook pages, sensationalized headlines, & the power of social media as a whole: what started as a “creepypasta” (internet-related scary story/legend) has gone mega-viral across the globe.
We’re talking about what’s now known as the Momo Challenge. This actually originated as a scary internet story in Russia back in 2016, under a different name. In Russia, someone even turned this into a real-life “game” which actually resulted in arrests — there was no evidence of any actual self-harm or deaths that resulted from this “challenge,” however, though the so-called “mastermind” behind it claims there were. Why?? Because PUBLICITY GIVES TROLLS IDEAS.
This “challenge” has since been read, re-told, & made its way to English-speaking countries in summer 2018, also originating as a hoax story (yet has the potential to become a reality, if it hasn’t already), which has now reached the viral spotlight. PUBLICITY GIVES TROLLS IDEAS.
Police divisions, schools, & media groups have begun informing parents on what could happen as a result of the power of the Internet — parents should 100% be “in the know” with what’s trending among kids, what their kids are into, what they’re watching, & who they are friends/communicate with.
The jist of the challenge: a “player” downloads a specific messenger app, enters a specific phone number to chat with the “administrator” (ie, Momo). A photo of a statue depicting a ghoulish smiling woman (Momo) is sent to instigate the chat. Momo issues one task per day to the player, starting with small, creepy tasks (something like “wake up early & watch a scary movie”) — each task gets more creepy/dark, which could eventually lead to self-harm, or end in suicide. If the player backs out of a task — they become a spam target of scary (possibly gory) images or even threats.
No official complaints of self harm or death due to the game have been recorded in North America.
To make Internet matters worse, a separate incident involving the YouTube Kids app went viral at the same time. “Dummy accounts” were created, & malicious users began stealing legitimately uploaded children’s videos to doctor the footage & re-upload them on their dummy accounts — adding in obscene, harmful material. One of which even depicted a form of suicide.
Today we've heard from hundreds of concerned schools and parents about the horrifying #Momo challenge which has reportedly been appearing in children's YouTube videos, causing panic and upset amongst young people. We hope you find our guide useful… https://t.co/Nuu4cUpBZD pic.twitter.com/t16m8GQ6Vt
— National Online Safety (@natonlinesafety) February 26, 2019
Because both stories went viral around the same time, Momo challenge stories & the harmful YouTube Kids videos began to “blend” together on social media, which has begun to scare young children from even watching videos. This prompted YouTube to make a statement, saying there have been no doctored children’s videos with Momo… Yet. It also wouldn’t take a troll much effort to leave comments across social media posts, telling people to add a WhatsApp phone number & try to copycat the idea.
Again: PUBLICITY GIVES TROLLS IDEAS.
If you see videos including harmful or dangerous challenges on YouTube, we encourage you to flag them to us immediately. These challenges are clearly against our Community Guidelines. More info here: https://t.co/H0C5tCfn5S
— YouTube (@YouTube) February 27, 2019
<By the way — here are ways to make the YouTube Kids app safer for your kids>
Just like the original viral story of the Momo Challenge, however — while the 99% of people accepted them as stories, many “legends” have plausible characteristics that could be created in today’s day & age. This can lead to a malicious hoax, though, all because some trolls like to watch the world burn. It’s almost like this is an updated (albeit more scary) version of a chain letter — which I’ve also never partaken in (maybe that’s why I always have bad luck on my Roll Up game).
The way to combat this? One idea is to now stop talking about Momo — young children don’t know what it is, but rumours spread just as quick in elementary schools as do viral social media posts. Your preteens & teenagers need to be aware a scary-looking bird lady won’t pop out of your YouTube video and disconnect their wifi (a child’s worst nightmare these days) or whatever they think MooMoo does if they don’t pay any attention to it. Wait, what were we talking about? Now I’m thirsty for milk.
These viral trends can even sometimes bring a bit of good to the table, as well (hear me out, lol) — reminding parents to be more engaged with their kids, set boundaries & go over rules, and most importantly, remind them not to follow bad ideas or things that could get them in trouble.
PARENT ALERT! Whether real or a hoax the disturbing MOMO Challenge asking kids to potentially put their lives in danger has popped up again. Use this opportunity to educate kids on being safe online and that seeing is not always believing #thecandiancentreforchildprotection pic.twitter.com/nEaPOIg5Zf
— OPP East (@OPP_ER) February 28, 2019
Further Reading Material:
Photo Source: Getty Images