The “Momo Challenge” is a terrible internet challenge where children and adolescents are reportedly being enticed by a user named Momo to perform a series of dangerous tasks including violent attacks and suicide. The creepy character is a cropped photo of a sculpture that was made for an art exhibition in Japan. It was first spread on Facebook, Whatsapp and it has recently hacked into popular kids’ shows like Peppa Pig on YouTube popping up in the middle of the episodes, scaring children with death threats in form of a song.
WHAT PARENTS CAN DO: TIPS FROM NATIONAL ONLINE SAFETY
TELL THEM IT’S NOT REAL
Just like any urban legend or horror story, the concept can be quite frightening and distressing for young people. Whilst this may seem obvious, it’s important for you to reiterate to your child that Momo is not a real person and cannot directly harm them! Also, tell your child to not go openly searching for this content online as it may only cause more distress.
It’s important for you, as a parent or carer, to be present while your children are online. This will give
you a greater understanding of what they are doing on their devices, as well as providing you with the opportunity to discuss, support and stop certain activities that your child may be involved in. As the nature of each task become progressively worse it’s
also important to recognise any changes in your child’s behaviour.
TALK REGULARLY WITH
As well as monitoring your child’s activity, it’s important for you discuss it with them too. Not only
will this give you an understanding of their online actions, but those honest and frequent conversations
will encourage your child to feel confident to discuss issues and concerns they may have related to the online world.
DEVICE SETTINGS &
Ensure that you set up parental controls for your
devices at home. This will help to restrict the types of content that your child can view, as well as help you to monitor their activity. In addition to this, it’s vital that you are aware of your device and account settings to ensure your child’s utmost safety. For example, on YouTube you can turn off ‘suggested auto-play’ on videos to stop your child from viewing content that they have not directly selected.
Trends and viral challenges can be tempting for children to take part in; no matter how dangerous or
scary they seem. Make sure you talk to your child about how they shouldn’t succomb to peer pressure
and do anything they are not comfortable with, online or offline. If they are unsure, encourage them to talk to you or another trusted adult.
REAL OR HOAX?
As a parent it is natural to feel worried about certain things you see online that may be harmful to your child. However, not everthing you see online is true. Check the validity of the source and be mindful of what you share as it may only cause more worry.
REPORT & BLOCK
You can’t always rely on parental controls to block distressing or harmful material. People find ways
around a platform’s algorithm in order to share and promote this type of material. Due to this, we
advise that you flag and report any material you deem to be inappropriate or harmful as soon as you come across it. You should also block the account/content to prevent your child from viewing it. Also encourage your child to record/screenshot any content they feel could be malicious to provide evidence in order to escalate the issue to the appropriate channels.
Speak to the safeguarding lead within your child’s school should you have any concerns regarding your child’s online activity or malicious content that could affect them.
If your child sees something distressing, it is important that they know where to go to seek help
and who their trusted adults are. They could also contact Childline where a trained counsellor will listen to anything that’s worrying them. The Childline phone number is