A warning for parents about a potentially dangerous social media trend. It’s called the “Momo Challenge” and it could direct your child to hurt him or herself.
Originally a Japanese sculpture, the Momo character has bulging eyes, a chilling smile and jet black hair on a bird’s body.
The Momo challenge is being shared on social media like Facebook and its free messaging app WhatsApp.
The challenge is to meet Momo and to do that, one must follow a series of instructions, which can include harming others or yourself, even suicide.
Some parents have reported coming across the challenge in videos geared toward children, such as on YouTube Kids. However, YouTube says it has found no evidence of the Momo Challenge on its platform.
The Momo Challenge has been investigated as possibly linked to the death of a girl in Argentina but none here in the United States.
Psychologist Dr. Ralphi Wald says you can talk to your kids about the implications of the Momo Challenge.
“The way you want to have it is talking about how there are people out there in the world who might try to convince you to do bad things, might try to convince you to do things that you don’t want to do,” he explained.
Tech experts say it’s also important to keep track of your child’s online activity and teach them about online safety, just as you would teach them to safely cross the street.
“How many people watching this have sat down and had the talk with their children about what they’re doing online, who they’re communicating with, what they’re sharing,” said Alan Crowetz, technology expert.
Facebook responded to concerns over the Momo Challenge, saying, “We care about the safety of our community and want to provide assistance for people in distress. As outlined in our Community Standards, we don’t allow the promotion of self-injury or suicide and will remove it when reported to us. We also provide people who have expressed suicidal thoughts, and people who want to reach out to a friend who may be struggling, with a number of support options and resources. These global tools and resources were developed with the help of over 70 mental health partners around the world and we’re continuously improving them to build a safer and more supportive community on Facebook.”
YouTube also issued a statement, saying, “We want to clear something up regarding the Momo Challenge: We’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies. 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.”