The "Momo Challenge" is hitting the headlines, social media feeds and school playgrounds. As concerning as this may be, it is a similar game to the Blue Whale challenge a few years ago and an example of the minefield of online games and videos our children can be exposed to without supervision.
These games tend to hit the news and social media newfeeds because of the sinister/extreme challenges involved and Momo also has the "creepy girl avatar" which was originally a Japanese sculpture and has no connection to or involvement in the game. Children at primary school age are more likely to be affected mentally through rumours about the game and YouTube videos using the avatar than actually being at risk of taking part in such a game.
Children may find that they have trouble sleeping or have nightmares after talking about or seeing videos of the game.
It is recommended that parents are open with their children about their online activity, talk regularly with them about the apps and games they play and the potential risks they could be exposed 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 We would also recommend that pupils use age-appropriate apps for communicating with friends and for watching videos.
The NSPCC publishes advice and guidance for parents on discussing online safety with their children: 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- Are withdrawn or angry after using the internet or sending text messages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
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: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/ Also see Net Aware, https://www.net-aware.org.uk/ - the UK's only parental guide to social media and gaming apps.