If you’ve spent any time in parenting groups on social media lately, you may have seen some dire warnings about something called “Momo”. And even if you haven’t spent time in these places, you may have received warnings about Momo from your child’s school or even the local news. But what is Momo? Is it really dangerous to kids? How can you keep them safe? Take a look at what you need to know about the truth behind the Momo phenomenon.
It’s unfortunately too easy for children to find upsetting content online when they’re unsupervised.
Put simply, Momo is a depiction of a creepy figure with long, stringy hair, protruding eyes, and an overly large, angular smile. The figure is not a photoshop or an internet creation – it’s a sculpture created by a Japanese company that creates props and effects for horror films.
The image can be found spliced into YouTube videos and shared on social media. Supposedly, it’s possible to search for Momo’s phone number on WhatsApp. Those who make contact with Momo are supposed to receive a series of instructions, starting with something relatively benign, like watching a horror movie and graduating to more disturbing tasks, like engaging in acts of self-harm, harming others, or committing suicide. This is called the “Momo challenge”.
Is It A Hoax?
There is no shortage of hoaxes on the internet, so it’s smart to question whether or not this is a real occurrence. It’s a complicated question. The image itself is real enough, and it really does pop up in YouTube videos and is shared online, sometimes with dark or disturbing messages or content.
The evidence for the Momo challenge, on the other hand, is a little less concrete. There are videos of people attempting to contact Momo online, but many never make contact, and others are obvious fakes. Reports of children actually harming themselves or others on Momo’s orders are poorly sourced and unreliable at best. It’s certainly possible that children might be frightened by the creepy face popping up unexpectedly, but it’s unlikely that there is a real rash of child suicides and self-harm being sparked by Momo. Experts compare these stories to an online chain letter or viral ghost story.
How to Protect Your Kids
Parental monitoring software can help you remain aware of what your child is seeing online.
While the threat posed by Momo seems overblown, it is possible for children to be influenced by viral internet stories and memes – consider the two young girls who stabbed a classmate in an attempt to please the fictional horror character Slenderman. Rather than worrying too much about Momo specifically, children should be taught to practice internet safety more broadly.
For example, children should know how to report harassing or disturbing content on any app or website that they spend time on and how to block strangers who send them unwanted messages. They should also be taught to bring messages or content that bothers them to the attention of yourself or another parent or adult. Additionally, you should familiarize yourself with the parental controls of your child’s devices as well as the settings of websites that you allow your child to frequent. This way you can filter and block most disturbing and age-inappropriate content.
Parental computer monitoring software can help you keep your child safe from disturbing content online, and alert you to the existence of a problem before it can become serious. For more information about how computer monitoring software can help you protect your child, get our risk free trial.