Everything you need to know about the Momo challenge
PUBLISHED: 12:05 27 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:24 27 February 2019
Here’s what you need to know about the Momo “suicide” challenge.
What is the Momo challenge?
Momo is an online “game” targeting young people, which challenges them to harm themselves or others and exposes them to graphic, potentially frightening images.
It features an avatar of a female doll-like figure, pale with dark hair and bulging eyes.
The challenge has been circulating on messaging app WhatsApp and has been linked to social media sites including Facebook and Snapchat. It has also appeared edited into videos on YouTube and YouTube Kids.
Momo originated in Mexico in 2016 but has recently come to prominence and spread to countries including the UK, US, France, Germany, India and Colombia, where it has been linked to the deaths of two young people.
Why is it such a problem?
There have been reports of the Momo challenge popping up in videos online such as Minecraft and even videos intended for small children such as Peppa Pig.
While YouTube issues a warning on videos which contain “inappropriate or offensive” content, they can be easily accessed by clicking a button to proceed.
How can parents and schools help?
An organisation called National Online Safety has issued guidance for parents on what they need to know about Momo, how they can stop their children viewing the content and what to say to them if they are exposed to it. Its tips include:
Tell your child it isn’t real: The concept can be distressing for young children so it’s important to reiterate that Momo is not real and cannot directly harm them.
Be present to monitor their internet use: It’s important for parents and carers to keep a close eye on what their children are viewing online so they can step in if anything inappropriate surfaces. The guidance recommends that parents also talk to their children about what they are doing and viewing online.
Use device settings and parental controls: Ensure parental controls are set up on devices such as tablets, computers and phones to restrict what your children can view. For example, this can be used to turn off YouTube’s suggested auto-play feature, to stop children watching content they haven’t actively selected.
Report and block inappropriate content: Some content may slip through the net of parental controls so flag and report any material you deem to be harmful or inappropriate and block accounts which share such content.
Address peer pressure: Children, particularly those who are older, may be tempted to take part in even dangerous viral trends to save face. Talk to your child to make sure they have the confidence to say ‘no’ to things they are not comfortable with.
Where can I find further support?
Parents can speak to their child’s school – the safeguarding lead or headteacher, for instance – if they have any concerns about their child’s online activity.
If children find content which distresses or upsets them, they can contact Childline on 0800 1111.