The Momo Challenge: Please, do not worry. Here's why.


But experts will tell you that the Momo Challenge probably has nothing to worry about.

The challenge is the latest viral concern / craze for social media / urban legend surrounding schools and parent groups on Facebook. It is described as a "suicide game" that combines shock images and hidden messages. It is supposed to encourage children to attempt dangerous stunts, including suicide.

Earlier this week, "Momo" was the best new trend research team on Google for the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

However, to everyone's knowledge, there is virtually no evidence to prove that this is a reality.

Let's break it down so you can worry about other things.

The challenge is hard to pin down …

The Momo Challenge is hard to describe because there is not much evidence of its existence. According to Facebook posts, people insert scary images and language into YouTube videos that are supposed to be child-friendly, such as cartoons and toy reviews. The "challenge" has also been reported on WhatsApp, where it could take the form of disturbing images and text messages sent by unknown contacts.

The image is usually that of a doll (rather terrifying) with long hair and bulging eyes. The scary sculpture is actually the work of a Japanese special effects company called Link Factory, and she, along with the artist and the company, has nothing to do with the saying "challenge".

The messages accompanying the image are said to encourage children to do destructive things, such as hurting their loved ones, putting themselves in dangerous situations or even killing themselves. Until now, in addition to publications on social networks, several schools in the United Kingdom have sent warnings to parents about the Momo Challenge. A British security organization says hundreds of concerned parents have contacted them for questions. In the United States, several sheriff services have issued notes informing parents about this.

… and the threat is at best anecdotal

Verified accounts of children who encounter these videos or Momo messages are rare. According to Snopes, the fact-finding site, the 2018 suicide deaths of two boys in India were linked to the Momo Challenge in stories. Other people cited in the report said they received game invitations in the WhatsApp messaging program.
At the end of February, a woman in Sacramento said her 12-year-old daughter had lit a gas stove after watching videos with surprise clips of the Momo figure. It has also been reported in the UK that children as young as five years old, according to their parents, have threatened to use violence on behalf of the Momo character.

This seems to be a concern. But here's the problem: Anyone can publish just about anything on YouTube at any time. It is therefore impossible to say that there are no terrifying videos floating around a harmful content. Is this a problem that deserves special attention? Experts do not think so.

"Is there a widespread worldwide phenomenon of Momo appearing in WhatsApp accounts and children's YouTube videos causing them to hurt themselves or others?", told CNN (Snopes covered the phenomenon with skepticism).

But advertising can give ideas to trolls

Although there seems to be little evidence that Momo Challege is a particular source of concern, Mr. Mikkelson pointed out that the attention given to this challenge could, ironically, lead people to create videos presenting the content of Momo.

"Now that the legend of the Momo Challenge is known, have some people used the character of Momo to frighten and taunt young people via WhatsApp or by slipping in video clips? Maybe some scattered incidents have occurred" he says.

Jill Murphy, vice president and editor-in-chief of Common Sense Media, told CNN that the Momo Challenge was addressing parents' (often-justified) fears about how social media platforms regulate content.

"So that's been around for a while, and the reason it probably deserves the attention and attention it deserves, is because of its appearance in the content of the youngest children, "she says. "And because of that, and because of accessibility, coupled with the frustration of parents, I think it's just a feverish tone:" Here's one last thing YouTube exposes kids about and takes no responsibility for them. "

So parents should take control …

As Murphy says, the concern about the Momo Challenge is perhaps less related to the challenge itself than the overwhelming apprehension of parents when they watch millions of YouTube videos unregulated and confusing and ever-changing social media applications. So, according to Murphy and Mikkelson, the solution is clear: know what your children are watching and how they are watching it.

"We encourage everyone to dissect the messages they receive and not be too alarmist," Murphy said. "But as this reminds and highlights the challenges of the YouTube platform for parents – not knowing whether or not they can trust the content – I think that's what's happening the most . "

Mikkelson encourages parents "to become familiar with the uses of social media by your children and to make sure that they understand that they should inform you of any online event that seems dangerous or threatening".

… and know that these hoaxes are not new

If you feel like a case of déjà vu, it's that "the challenges of suicide", online urban myths and other horror stories on the internet are popping up all the time.

You may remember the Blue Whale suicide game of a few years ago, which circulated on social media, but had little evidence to confirm the dangers. Lighter challenges, such as the big Tide Pod consumer phenomenon of 2018, seemed to attract more jokes and parody than real incidents.
The most important consequence of these online legends may have been revealed in 2014, when two Wisconsin girls repeatedly stabbed their friend and claimed that Slenderman, a fictional character born on message boards, had told them made understand. A teenager was sentenced to life imprisonment of 25 years in a psychiatric facility and the other to 40 years of a mental health facility.
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