Many students, principals, teachers, and parents have been expressing concern and experiencing anxiety and stress about something called the “Momo Challenge.”
In this challenge young players were supposedly encouraged to perform a succession of tasks which become increasingly dangerous. There have been recent reports that Momo is now showing up in kids YouTube videos, although YouTube has denied this. Children are also reporting having been challenged through games like Fortnite and Roblox. Despite claims that the phenomenon had reached worldwide proportions no police force has been able to confirm anyone has been involved or harmed as a direct result of the phenomenon. Some sources are now reporting this as a hoax.
Since our students are concerned and discussing this with their peers, we thought it was important to share this with you so you are prepared to discuss it with your child if necessary. Our Family School Liaison Counsellors and school staff have been addressing what we are hearing by talking to students about internet safety and what to do when they see or hear something online that makes them uncomfortable. We have not been sharing specifics of the Momo Challenge with them.
For parents today, it can seem that there are endless ways that the internet is trying to harm your children (Blue Whale challenge, Tide Pod challenge, Cinnamon challenge). All of these challenges and trends follow the same formula: A local news station runs a piece overstating a dangerous trend and concerned parents spread the story on social media. These trends are part of a moral panic fueled by fears and sharing them can actually end up causing harm to a more vulnerable child. While the discussion now is focusing on the Momo Challenge, similar concerns have popped up online before and likely will in the future. Helping children learn to navigate digital tools safely is an important skill for them to have.
What should you do?
- Monitor your child online. A great resource for parents is www.commonsensemedia.org. This website provides reviews and age recommendations for movies, TV shows, books, apps, and games. It also offers advice for parents on privacy and online safety, screen time, social media, and specific recommendations on how to make using some of the most popular apps a fun and safe experience for children.
- Please stop sharing the story on social media. While some concerned members of the public have rushed to share posts warning of the suicide risk, there are fears that the increased attention will exacerbate the situation by scaring children and spreading images associated with self-harm.
- Remind children and youth that the most important thing they can do to keep themselves and their family members safe is to immediately tell a trusted adult when someone mentions anything harmful or criminal.
- In classrooms and at home, the message to children and youth should focus on the importance of never talking to or taking advice from a stranger.
- If you have further concerns or questions about your child participating in online challenges please feel free to contact your school Principal or Family School Liaison Counsellor.