What is Momo?

A scary face (known as Momo) is making another viral round on the internet, frightening parents and children.  According to reports, the image suddenly appears on apps and websites such as YouTube, WhatsApp, Fortnight and Peppa Pig. It allegedly manipulates the viewer into completing so-called challenges.  The most disturbing challenges involve self-harm and even suicide.

The image of Momo started as an art sculpture in Japan, created by special effects company, Link Factory.  Little is known about anyone behind the alleged challenges.  The popular image was first shared in 2016 and went viral in 2018, when it became associated as a tool to harm children.

Should parents be concerned with the Momo Challenge?

Many news outlets have notified parents and schools about the dangers of Momo.  Despite widespread hysteria and warnings from police, evidence of Momo actually appearing or harming a child seems non-existent.  Headlines about youth suicide following contact from Momo are easy to find, but no credible links have been proven.

Debunking website Snopes classify Mono as a Viral Phenomena, noting that “A good deal of skepticism remains that the existence of the Momo challenge may be far more hype or hoax than reality.”  The Atlantic published an article simply titled “Momo is Not Trying to Kill Children”.  The most common argument from critics is that no screen shots exist, that can be verified, showing Momo in action.

Despite skeptism, Wanda Maximoff is concerned.  Her viral tweet about Momo says, “Warning! Please read, this is real.  There is a thing called ‘Momo’ that’s instructing kids to kill themselves,  “INFORM EVERYONE YOU CAN.”  Maximoff’s plea has now been retweeted over 25,000 times, causing some pandemonium among some parents.

How Should Parents Talk to Their Kids About Momo?

Parents should use Momo as an opportunity to talk to kids about online safety.  Momo may or may not be real.  Regardless there are a number of predators online each day that seek to harm children.  Often, these predators use technology and grooming behaviors (such as compliments, offering gifts, and sharing vulnerable things) to gain trust.  Their goal is to get the child to reciprocate this behavior, often divulging personal information and sometimes inappropriate images.

Take a moment to learn about the dangerous apps and websites used by online predators and aggressive individuals.  In addition, check out my tips on how to talk to your child about cyberbullying and online safety