Dear Parents/Carers please be alerted to the following
The ‘Momo; challenge is when a large doll figure with bulging eyes and a ‘creepy’ grin encourages children to add a contact on messaging service WhatsApp, then hounds children with violent messages and dares. It encourages children to self-harm and the ultimate post tells them to take their own lives. The police believe that ‘Momo’ maybe being run by hackers who are looking for information. The ‘Momo’ contact can also threaten the victim’s family if the ‘challenge’ is not completed. There are now numerous variations and imitators of this. The danger lies with children feeling pressured to either follow the orders on any app by carrying out the ‘challenges’ or because of peer pressure in chat rooms. Guidance to parents should be to:
– Ensure parents know what their children can access online
– Ensure children understand the importance of not giving personal information to anyone they don’t know
– To tell children no-one has the right to make them do anything they do not want to do
– Use parental controls to keep children safe.
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– Are withdrawn or angry after using the internet or sending text messages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 on 0808 800 5000 or visit the NSPCC website https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/
Children who are worried about their activity on apps or online games can contact Childline 24 hours a day on 0800 1111 or https://www.childline.org.uk/
It is understood the original artwork used by the hackers has been taken from a designer in Japan who has no connection whatsoever with the Momo challenge.
A reminder to parents and children as of May 2018, WhatsApp’s minimum age of use is 16 years old in the UK. Further guidance for parents available at https://parentinfo.org/article/whatsapp-a-guide-for-parents-and-carers