This past week, social media was flooded with warnings to parents and caregivers about the “Momo Challenge.” This challenge has been described as a “suicide game” and reportedly utilizes shocking imagery and hidden messaging to encourage kids to harm themselves. Local schools sent notifications home to parents to address the mass concern. However, as the week came to a close, several reputable news sources (CNN, and The Atlantic) began to report that this was simply an unfortunate hoax. There is no evidence to prove that such a challenge exists.
So what can parents take away from all of this media hype?
While stories like this can be scary, it is all too easy to simply click and share a warning post. As adults, do your homework first. Please ensure that what you are sharing is accurate to prevent further perpetuating any unnecessary fear.
Online hoaxes like this are unfortunately all too common and the attention we give them can have negative repercussions as internet trolls can take advantage of those that believe these things to be real, creating content that seems to confirm what parents most fear.
As parents, the level of concern that this story generated seems to reflect our concerns about the internet in general. According to Jill Murphy, vice president and editor-in-chief of Common Sense Media, the “Momo Challenge” was utilized to prey on parents’ (often justified) fears of social media. Many things like YouTube videos are unregulated, and social media apps are confusing and frequently changing, which can cause parents to feel scared and out of control.
While safe-guarding your children’s devices and limiting screen time is always a good thing, what seems to be just as important, if not more so, is maintaining open lines of communication. Parents, know what your children are viewing online. Talk about it. And ensure that they know to come to you if they stumble upon a disturbing image or uncomfortable content.
Written by: Rebekah Jones