If you’ve got school aged kids you’ve probably heard of “The Momo Challenge” – this is the kind of viral content and news that causes a lot of angst and bed swapping at night, with kids of all ages being scared out of their wits. It also causes great concern for parents.
The bad news? It’s not limited to Australia – this is world wide and the news is spreading fast.
We wrote about The Momo Challenge and other dark online occurrences and websites last year here – but recently, the challenge has reemerged and is being reported on sites such as news.com.au and ABC News.
It’s easy to jump onto the hysteria bandwagon. Momo – the character at the centre of the WhatsApp blackmail plot – is scary to say the least. What’s more, the challenge is being reported as “deadly” – certainly enough to dominate the conversation at a local kids game of Basketball on Saturday mornings across the country. But is it a hoax? Should you genuinely be concerned? Is there a ‘real’ Momo involved? Was there ever?
We break down what you need to know:
It all started with WhatsApp, but has moved over to other social platforms including YouTube with videos of the bird-like creature being uploaded as video content. Initially The ‘challenge’ reportedly targeted teenagers through the popular messaging app. Users were supposedly contacted by a user called ‘Momo’ and were then threatened to enact a series of gruesome tasks, with the final one being to commit suicide.
The Momo avatar is based on a Japanese company called Link Factory’s sculpture, which was on display at Tokyo’s horror art Vanilla Factory.
Refusal from victims to enact these dangerous tasks have reportedly resulted in threatening messages, along with with violent and gory images to frighten them into doing so. While we don’t believe “Momo” has been reported in Australia, the news that two teenage deaths occurred in South America and Asia is enough to make it seem real and very, very dangerous.
The origins and legitimacy of the Momo Challenge do have some inconsistencies, however. It is possible that this challenge is a hoax, embellished & sensationalised by the media. But that doesn’t mean that the fear isn’t real – or that Momo hasn’t been a useful disguise for cyberbullies.
It doesn’t help that some of the viral content is a result of kids scaring other kids (and themselves) by copying and reposting creepy images and videos from 2018. Not limited to YouTube or Facebook, but going as far as Instagram stories with kids being told – “If you don’t repost this, Momo will appear in your bedroom at midnight!” Who would want to risk that?!
…And so the viral content continues to be spread.
But real or not – it’s frightening. So, what can you do to protect your kids?
Education goes a long way – and we can’t stress enough – open the lines of communication and use events like this as an opportunity for both you and your child to talk about their digital activities.
Here are our top tips in protecting your kids online:
If your child is going down the rabbit hole of YouTube (which even we admit is very easy to do! Even adults may not be able to resist the temptation) or you feel concerned about their WhatsApp usage you can take the following actions:
To Block Youtube with Yomojo FamilyEye
To Block WhatsApp with Yomojo FamilyEye
Another step you can take is preventing your children from downloading and installing apps without your knowledge by going to App Safety in your dashboard and Toggling App Installation to on.
The internet can be a scary place, but with the right tools and education you can ensure your kids are safe and thrive in the online world.