Firstly what is ‘Momo challenge”?
The ‘momo challenge’ is a virtual ghost story craze that entices children and adolescents to perform a series of dangerous challenges or tasks starting light and trivial and escalating into more serious activities which has led to violent attacks and in very extreme cases, suicide.
There has become a nationwide panic as to how we can to keep our children safe yet still allow them to thrive in an online and digital world. Momo is active and affecting social media sites like WhatsApp and vlogging sites like youtube. It has been able to target specific children’s channels like kids youtube, even with security settings in place.
In reported cases, children have been watching what appear to be suitable videos on kids youtube, the fictional character will then appear mid video luring viewers in before asking to add the character to their WhatsApp and this is where the challenge and danger commences. The game works by
doxxing, which means it works by pretending it has information on you.
The whole scenario became wide spread in July 2018 however has now been made more public in the UK after a police force in Northern Ireland posted on their social media about the challenge to make more people aware of it in February.
After watching the video myself I found not only is the face scary but also the words it speaks are even more terrifying, even at my age, and this is being targeted at children. Children are bringing targeted through shows like peppa pig, at what age do your children start watching pepper pig?
Many parents that I have spoken to are horrified and terrified that this could be seen by their children. One parent I spoke to explain that her children 5 and 11 years old both use youtube to watch shows and vloggers, on the children’s youtube. She explains that they have security with their internet provider but it doesn’t give her much confidence as Momo
is able to get through it.
Another parent I spoke to, has stopped her daughter who is 3years old from watching peppa pig for the moment on you tube and has resorted to watching film on DVD. Schools in the Hertfordshire area have also sent out information to parent regarding this craze and it is also being reported more and more via social media.
Research shows three in 10 kids have been affected by the challenge – with one in 20 allegedly going on to hurt themselves or others. Of the children who have ‘encountered’ the Momo charachter, 57% were commanded to hurt themselves a poll of parents by the website found.
And while 95% of parents were aware of the craze, 30% said they hadn’t warned their children about the supposed dangers.
How can you help to protect your child?
- If your child has seen it, Report it to the police by calling 101 and speaking to your local
police force or report it online with your local police force.
- Speak to your children’s school if they are at school or nursery.
- If they are older and understand more then be honest with them, it’s not real and nothing will happen, there is someone who decided it would be funny to do this and we know its not funny or kind. Someone has made it up like different show you watch. – there are
bad people out their like the person made this up but monsters are not real.
- Tell them about doxxing and explain that the game knows nothing about them.
- Check their phones – and explain to them why you are doing it, to keep them safe.
- Make sure you tell them that no matter what the games tells them you will never reject
them, you will always love them and be therefore them.
- Install security applications on their phones if they have one.
- Make sure thy they know if they have any worries that you are there to listen.
- You can also put something in place to support them for example a worry pot, if they have a worry they can write it down and put it in there.
Staying Safe online
What is important here is not that we cut children off from their digital devices or warning our children about specific dangers online like “momo”, we can better help our children by teaching them good practices so they can safely thrive online. It is important for our children to know that they should not allow strangers to contact them online, and they should not seek out to contact any strangers online, regardless of the method. The same thing we teach them to do in real life.
We need to have open conversations with our children so that they can talk about these kinds of issues so that we can teach them best practice for browsing online safely, as opposed to taking away their devices or talking about a big red button that they’re not allowed to push! If you do see your child switching screens as you walk into the vicinity, or see any new numbers or email addresses appearing into their contacts, its important to check in with them. We want our kids to be savvy enough to ignore things like the momo story, and come to their parents if they see something that could lead them astray.
If you would like further information or any help with ways to keep your child safe online please don’t hesitate to contact me to speak about booking a free consultation in at my practice in Redbourn. I offer a range of talking therapies including NLP (neurolinguistic programming) Hypnotherapy and general life coaching to both children and adults. To see how these therapies can help and support you and your children you can book a free consultation here. Our helpful Frequently asked questions can also be found here.