It seems as if there’s a new internet craze going viral all over social media and media outlets, but this time it is aiming for children. It is the “Momo” challenge.
Recently everyone started talking about this creepy looking doll popping up in children’s videos on YouTube or YouTube Kids “challenging” them into doing dangerous and harmful acts to themselves or people around them.
Quite similar to the whole 2017 epidemy that is the Blue Whale game.
However, as of right now, no actual incidents have been officially reported due to this whole “Momo” thing. So several platforms are calling it a “hackers’ hoax” to get personal information and data.
So let’s get to the bottom of this…
Who is “Momo”?
Momo is a spindly figure with large bulging eyes, freakishly long grin, dark long hair, and the body of a bird. It was originally created by a Japanese art studio in 2016.
Warning: Creepy content follows:
Although this Momo character has supposedly been around for a while, it only became the talk of the internet this week when social media posts and media articles started claiming that it is urging children -in a creepy robotic voice- to hurt themselves through the so-called “Momo challenge”.
What is the Momo Challenge?
According to the story spreading online, this Momo character appears in seemingly innocent kids videos on both YouTube and YouTube Kids.
The word going around is that when she appears, she threatens the children to do dangerous acts to themselves and threatens she’ll kill or “curse” them if they didn’t listen or if they told their parents.
It also has been reported that she, Momo, asks children, more like threatens children into contacting a number on WhatsApp.
And after the child is connected, “Momo”, or rather the creepy hackers behind Momo can send whatever they want to the child. In addition to, of course, illegally accessing the personal data and information on the children’s phones.
How did this “Challenge” affect the public?
Regardless of the fact that no child has been physically harmed due to this “Momo challenge”, parents are still in a full-on panic mode.
This appears in their emotional Facebook posts in which they describe how traumatized and horrified their children are. As seen in the following post:
It appears that this phenomenon has been extremely traumatizing to the children and their parents. To the extent that schools and police forces in some countries released official warnings to the parents to ‘watch out for Momo’.
That’s not all. YouTube, of course, has been taking the heat from all sides for containing videos with such content.
Although, it is a well-known fact that YouTube is a very public platform to which basically everyone has access.
However, YouTube did answer (in a series of tweets) to all these claims and said that it has not had videos promoting that challenge and that if any do exist, they’d be removed.
Stating that this kind of content is “against their policy”…
We want to clear something up regarding the Momo Challenge: We’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies.
— YouTube (@YouTube) February 27, 2019
They also encouraged anyone who sees such videos to “immediately flag them” and report them so they get taken down.
If you see videos including harmful or dangerous challenges on YouTube, we encourage you to flag them to us immediately. These challenges are clearly against our Community Guidelines. More info here: https://t.co/H0C5tCfn5S
— YouTube (@YouTube) February 27, 2019
With all of that said; is it real or just a hoax?
Yes, if you searched “Momo” right now, you will find videos containing that creepy looking doll, we found some when we tried. But other than being creeped out, no actual harm has been done.
And since no actual cases of suicide or self-harm due to the Momo challenge have been reported, we are going with: No, it is not real!
Momo isn’t killing anybody.
However, we do think it is dangerous for children’s mentalities to be exposed to this kind of peer pressure and quite frankly just horrifying image. I mean I am getting the chills just writing about it!
We do think that this whole thing happened when a creepy hacker saw a picture of a creepy looking doll and decided to use it to hack into people’s personal information exploiting children’s naivety and parents’ absence.
When it worked, it became a trend, and now several creeps are using it for their personal creepy motives.
Surprise surprise, people can be creepy!
Should we still take action, even when it’s fake?
Yes! Thankfully, the whole thing was a joke on the parents more than the kids; however, there are many things we can learn from this incident.
GET YOUR KIDS OFF THE INTERNET!
Giving a child at such a young age uninhibited freedom to browse the internet or YouTube is basically like letting them wander dark deserted allies alone in the middle of the night! Actually, even worse!
Even YouTube Kids?
Yes! Even YouTube kids. Although YouTube kids’ content is supposed to be more filtered than regular YouTube, it is still a very, very public platform.
Everyone can upload videos to it.
And there is no way for YouTube to fully control the details of the billions of videos that are being uploaded to it every single second! It is not like the children’s channels on TV. YouTube is not the one uploading their content!
However, there is a way for you to control what YOUR CHILD is exposed to, two ways actually:
A. They don’t have to watch YouTube. Educational kids-friendly content is still available through television.
I mean we grew up watching Nikoledean and Spacetoon and we wound up just fine, well, okay, I guess.
Sure, we were eventually exposed to the dark side of the internet but at least by then, we were old enough to know that we are doing this to ourselves, and differentiate between what is real what is not.
B. If they must watch YouTube, there are several things that you can do to know what they are watching:
- Check what your children are watching, YouTube has parental supervision which allows you to do so.
- Monitor their viewing history, it is available through YouTube, and for free.
- Use time restriction apps to make sure they don’t spend too much browsing YouTube. Which we all know how dangerous it can be, even for adults.