Momo Challenge Surfaces Again | Targets Young Children Online
In 2017 it was Blue Whale, now its Momo Challenge, which is encouraging young people to harm themselves and in some cases even take their own lives as has been reported in the UK for the first time. It appears that it has made a comeback making YouTube as the medium for the dangerous challenge’s propagation. YouTube was accused of not being careful with exposing minors to objectionable content on its platform. The app faced backlash from users as well as advertisers, leading to several major companies like Nestle deciding to pull out their commercials from the video app. The “Momo Challenge” noticeably started circulating around the web globally in 2018.
Momo Challenge is described as a WhatsApp “suicide challenge”, features an avatar of a woman with dark hair, pale skin and oversized eyes, who sends young people images and instructions on how to harm themselves and others. Momo targets young children on social media. The doll encourages them to add a contact on messaging service WhatsApp, then hounds them with violent images and dares. It encourages them to self-harm and the ultimate post tells them to take their own lives.
It is a form of cyber bullying that spreads through social media and smartphones. The “Momo Challenge” much like the “Blue Whale Challenge” entices users to contact a user named “Momo”, after which they receive graphic threats from the questionable account and are instructed to perform a series of dangerous tasks.
Reports claims that Momo was clearly run by hackers who are looking for information. “A ‘curse contact’ sends a number and tells you to contact them on WhatsApp. “One video of such an interaction in America I’ve seen, shows an ominous-sounding voice recording being sent to a child telling them to take a knife to their own throat. “Another threatens family if a ‘challenge’ is not completed. It’s chilling viewing. “There are numerous variations and of course now imitators.”
Common Signs of Children Involved in Momo Challenge
- Become very secretive, especially about what they are doing online
- Are spending a lot of time on the internet and social media
- Are switching screens on their device when approached
- Are withdrawn or angry after using the internet or sending text messages
- Have lots of new phone numbers or email addresses on their devices
What to Do Now
Appeals are made to parents to not simply focus on Momo but urging them to:
- Ensure they know what their children can access online
- Ensure children understand the importance of not giving personal information to anyone they do not know
- Tell their children no-one has the right to make them do anything they do not want to do
- Use parental controls to keep children safe
If you are feeling an urge for self-harm please contact AASRA’s 24 x7 helpline number: 022 2754 6669. If adults are concerned or have any questions on how to approach the subject with their children, they can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000. Children who are worried about their activity on apps or online games can contact Childline 24 hours a day, online and over the phone on 0800 1111.