A Smart Look at the MOMO Challenge
Throughout recent years, social media has seen a number of viral challenges that have been targeting audiences, oftentimes the vulnerable children and young adults, to engage in dangerous activities, and record them online. From the tide pod viral video dares, to the fire challenge, to the chocking challenge, the cinnamon challenge, and the latest MOMO challenge, concerns are high amongst parents and families trying to navigate how to keep their kids safe. Recent reports indicate that even apps that have been created to help families better monitor their children’s online activities like YouTube Kids may have been hacked by unknown sources.
The Momo challenge is shockingly alarming, a disturbing image of a woman with distorted features, asking kids to increasingly pass challenges that intensify in nature, encouraging them to harm themselves or others.
What we know…
Information currently circulating the web addresses a number of concerns stemming from the Momo challenges, but it’s difficult at this time to determine the facts. From mixed reports discussing the dangers of hackers collecting data from young children, to news articles containing dark information about concerned families reporting their children have been targeted, (CBS, 2019) to others indicating amplified media coverage had exacerbated the problem of circulating false information (Forbes, 2019). A most recent BBC report has indicated that the MOMO challenge is nothing more than a hoax (BBC, 2019).
Even though social media channels monitor and remove inappropriate content, images and videos can be uploaded and viewed instantly prior to being reported and removed. These harmful messages are said to be imbedded in videos that appear to be child-appropriate, so it’s difficult for parents to foresee unusual or harmful activity. The content is slipping through parental settings, so children may have come across it and parents may be unaware.
While we are all working to disseminate this overwhelming and conflicting latest social media concern, here’s what we can do now…
As alarming as this is for all of us, we need to be communicating openly with our children about their online activities. It is equally important to talk “stranger danger” with your children in real life as it is online. The same goes for open communication about peer pressure from friends who have engaged in these kinds of activities who may be encouraging others to do so. The digital world is truly an extension of the physical world, but with a level of complexity and secrecy that makes it incredibly difficult to navigate.
Engage: This is not the first and will not be the last social media concern that your kids will encounter online. Be fully present, as much as you possibly can be, with your children’s online activities.
Protect: Many parents are worried about infringing on their children’s independence and this can be especially hard with teenagers. But your child needs your help in navigating the online world. You have every right to know what they are doing. And they need you to help protect them.
Activate: Help them navigate their critical thinking skills. Social media opens up a vast world of unknowns and exposure to information many children aren’t ready for. SGS recommends downloading the SGS app, available on Google Play and the App Store. Through our copy-written IP and algorithm we research and rate social media apps through the lens of privacy, security, content and intent to help empower parents to make smart choices about their kids’ uses of technology and all things digital.
Make a social media or technology contract with the whole family. Everyone can use some guidance and accountability. We recommend no phones in bedrooms at night and setting time restrictions. Right now many of us are wishing we could go back to the flip phone. It’s okay to take a digital pause or reset. Re-evaluate the way you are using technology and work with those around you and those you love most to make the best of it.
We are here if you need us.
“Police Issue Warning to Parents after “Momo Challenge” Resurfaces.” Lewis, Sophie. 2.27.2019
“Momo Challenge, the Anatomoy of a Hoax.” BBC News. 2.28.2019. https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-47393510
“Don’t Panic, What Parents Really Need to Know About ‘Momo Challenge.” Robertson, Andy. 2.27.2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/andyrobertson/2019/02/27/dont-panic-what-parents-really-need-to-know-about-momo-challenge/#128d7aac3a4b