Should you be worried about the Momo challenge?

The answer to this question varies widely depending on who you listen to and the information encompasses both extremes.

A well-known video hosting site has said that there is no problem whatsoever (although they have since made some significant changes to their advertising and comments sections) and others are saying that children are trying to kill themselves after taking the Momo challenge.

As is usually the case, both extremes are incorrect. So what is the Momo challenge?

The Momo challenge is basically a viral hoax that uses the image (I won’t include it in my article) of a possessed looking chicken lady. The image itself is from a Japanese special effects company and was around way back in 2016. The company has nothing to do with the current Momo challenge hype.

There have been reports that Momo is a malware (malicious software) attack but so far those reports remain unsubstantiated. Although hackers could use something like this, the level of data shared makes it unlikely. However, WhatsApp users with slack security settings could receive a message from an unknown account using a photo of ‘Momo’ as a profile picture. Clicking on the image in these circumstances could lead to a software attack.

Currently the biggest concern for parents is that trolls have been inserting disturbing self-harm images into children’s shows like Peppa Pig and the  ‘Momo challenge’ has been credited for this. It is a cheap Halloween-style stunt to scare children.

The most informed and helpful article I came across was by Andy Robertson called, “Don’t Panic, What Parents Really Need to Know about the ‘Momo Challenge’.

So what should parents do if they are worried about the Momo challenge?  Here is my takeaway from the research:

  1. We should be monitoring everything our children watch anyway. The rise of the Momo challenge is a good reminder of how important this is. In some ways, the perpetrators did us a favour by making the image look so horrific. It caught our attention and should prompt concerned ongoing moderation of our children’s media consumption.
  2. Don’t give the Momo Challenge any more attention on social media – let it become yesterday’s news and die a natural death.
  3. If the Momo image has popped up in your children’s viewing of Peppa Pig or something similar, have a calm chat to your child about what it really is – a photo of a sculpture that was made to scare people. It has no power and is actually quite silly looking.

Mike Curtis, Principal

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