Say No, No to Momo! Our Take on the Momo Challenge

Say No, No to Momo!

To say this has been in the news lately would be an understatement! But in reality, how much do you actually know about the Momo Challenge? The truth is, this is fake news!

This first came to light back in July 2018, initially originating in several countries around the world such as France, Argentina, India and the United States where teen suicides were linked to this image and its associated videos. It’s worth noting at this point that none of the authorities in these countries have confirmed any link to these videos/images/letters to these deaths.

The “Momo Challenge” is a hoax internet challenge that was initially spread by users of Facebook (and other Social Media platforms) and was exaggerated by several media outlets throughout the world. Over the past 8 months, this “challenge” has been sensationalised in various UK tabloids, including the Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror and The Sun. Along with these terrifying stories, the panic on Social Media has kicked in hence the overflow of information we are receiving today.

Should I be concerned with these videos?

We always recommend teachers & parents to be vigilant when children are using the internet. Although this is a hoax, it doesn’t mean that someone isn’t going to create these images/videos/letters to be distributed on the internet, so children should always be supervised to see what sites they are visiting. YouTube is a great example of content control that is now appearing within apps. We always recommend using the YouTube for Kids app, although the content controls still need setting up.

The Momo Challenge was reported as coming through on WhatsApp as well which can be difficult to control. However, the control of WhatsApp comes down to teaching children how to use the app safely. WhatsApp can only be used through the mobile number of the phone it is attached to, so teaching children to never give out their number to anyone they don’t know is imperative.

What do I do if something I see a news story like this again?

It’s not a question of if this happens again, but when. It’s unfortunate that we have come to this stage, but there are people out there with agendas that don’t fit into the safe world, but the protection of our children and ourselves whilst using the internet and social media is paramount.

Any news story on social media, and even in the tabloids, should never be taken at face value. Any story making strong claims should always be researched on multiple, genuine websites. A quick search of “Momo Challenge” on Google quickly reveals multiple web sites that confirm this story is a hoax. Using a genuine hoax-debunking website, such as www.snopes.com, or just simply looking at stories from the larger news outlets such as the BBC, The Telegraph, The Guardian, etc, can be of help as well.

As a Parent/Teacher, What Should I do?

Here is an excerpt from the BBC website about this story:

“Police have suggested that rather than focusing on the specific momo meme, parents could use the opportunity to educate children about internet safety, as well as having an open conversation about what children are accessing.

“This is merely a current, attention-grabbing example of the minefield that is online communication for kids,” wrote the Police Service of Northern Ireland, in a Facebook post.

Broadcaster Andy Robertson, who creates videos online as Geek Dad, said in a podcast that parents should not “share warnings that perpetuate and mythologise the story”.

“A better focus is good positive advice for children, setting up technology appropriately and taking an interest in their online interactions,” he said.

To avoid causing unnecessary alarm, parents should also be careful about sharing news articles with other adults that perpetuate the myth.” – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-47393510

This is good advice. We shouldn’t be adding fuel to the fake news fire. We shouldn’t share these fake news posts on Facebook without checking it’s credible first. We should ensure that we are teaching children to use the internet safely and responsibly, and that they should always tell an adult if they see something that makes them uncomfortable or nervous.

Finally, we should be making children as safe as possible when using the internet. If we are unsure about how to setup content controls, or what apps should or should not be used, there are a wealth of guidelines and pages on the internet that can help answer questions, along with experts all over the world, and just around the corner.

List of Sources

The article above is not a definitive guide on what should & shouldn’t be done regarding hoaxes & fake news and is for general information only. Expert advice should always be sought if any concerns are brought to light.