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Viral ‘Momo Challenge’ Hoax

Viral ‘Momo Challenge’ Hoax

SThe “Momo Challenge” is an alleged form of cyberbullying that spreads through social media and cell phones, targeting children and adolescents. After phone users are enticed to contact a user named Momo, they receive threats from the user and are instructed to perform a series of dangerous tasks. Despite claims that the phenomenon has reached worldwide proportions in July 2018, the number of actual complaints is relatively small and no police force has confirmed that anyone was harmed as a direct result of the phenomenon. Reports on and awareness of the alleged challenge rose in February 2019 after the Police Service of Northern Ireland posted a public warning on Facebook.

Wikipedia

‘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.

Police have appealed to parents to not simply focus on ‘Momo’, 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

Among the most common signs to watch out for include children who:

  • 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  • Are withdrawn or angry after using the internet or sending text messages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

Momo may be creepy, but police believe it is clear it is being used by hackers to harvest information.

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 or visit the NSPCC website.

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.

 

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