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Friday 1 March 2019

Momo Challenge: what's it all about?

What THE HELL is this Momo Challenge?

I first heard about it, like many, about 48 hours ago. Since then, the headlines on this ridiculousness have escalated, and have now reached fever pitch.

I, in a ROUNDABOUT way, tried to ask my 11 year old daughter if she'd heard about... but didn't want to tell her TOO much.

And just tonight she said:

"Mum, I want to warn you about something... but it's something you probably want to warn ME about it..."

Immediately, I knew she was referring to the Momo Challenge.

I swiftly proceeded to tell her how crazy and stupid the whole thing is (natural protective defence mechanism in play), and told her the original photos came from random posts about a weird cartoonish but scary figure developed by a Japanese special effects company, and in its full length version it's a half bulging eye woman, half chicken feet arty thing.

And then... news that our beloved Peppa Pig was also implicated in this madness? YES!

Plus, suddenly: children watching Peppa Pig at risk of self harm? How can this be so?

Earlier this week a Twitter user warned parents around the world that “a thing called ‘Momo’” was instructing children to kill themselves and others.
In a tweet shared on Wednesday, claims were made that the scary figure appearing during kid’s videos was inciting kids them to self harm or commit violence against their family.
It alleged games and Youtube videos were being hacked and harmful messages transmitted to kids.
However, experts are arguing the Momo Challenge is nothing but a viral hoax perpetuated by frightened parents AND news outlets.
As news of the Momo Challenge spreads, parents have actually shared videos of their terrified children and called into radio stations, claiming the videos are real and the Momo figure is causing some real issues right inside their homes.
“Parents please be aware and very cautious of what your child watches on YouTube and KIDS YOUTUBE,” the tweet warned.
“There is a thing called ‘Momo’ that’s instructing kids to kill themselves, turn on stoves while everyone is sleep (sic) and even threatening to tell their parents.
“It doesn’t come on instantly so it’s almost as if it waits for you to leave the room then comes on in mid show.
But, what's actually happening is...
The Momo Challenge is a cyberbullying trend prevalent on platforms like WhatsApp, through which children receive anonymous threatening messages tied to pictures of Momo.
But there is no evidence to suggest the phenomenon actually exists.
Even mental health groups in the UK are labelling it as "fake news" with a "moral panic" actually spread by adults.
Police in Northern Ireland have even suggested the challenge could be part of a wider phishing scam "by hackers who are looking for personal info".
There is in fact very little evidence to suggest the viral trend is anything more than unsubstantiated rumours fuelled by media coverage. Yep, like this. But we hope THIS story instead dispels the myths.
Even reports the Momo thing was embedding itself into YouTube videos on Fortnite and Peppa Pig are unfounded.
The claim (which originated on Facebook) was picked up super quick by social media users, with Kim Kardashian even picking it up, warning parents of the threat on Instagram.
YouTube was forced to respond to these controversial claims, noting it had been paying "close attention to these reports".
"Despite press reports of this challenge surfacing, we haven't had any recent links flagged or shared with us from YouTube."
The Office of the eSafety Commissioner believes parents should be keeping tabs on their child's viewing habits all the same.
"Active parental engagement and oversight of a child's online activities is critical from the start, to help ensure they are prepared for what they may encounter," it said.
Here is a Tweet warning parents:

We actually starting hearing about it two days ago on the Kyle and Jackie O show.
One mum claimed her six-year-old daughter was convinced to turn on the stove in her home by the 'online monster'.
Another mother said her child could no longer sleep in her own bed without crying.
“It got to the point that she couldn’t be at home, in her own home, to feel safe,” said another.
The numerous stories led to Kyle and Jackie O to deem this a “sick maniac” behind the challenge, and to be locked up.
Despite the news of “child suicide” and “self-harm”, actual verified incidences of self harm are yet to be confirmed.
“Contrary to press reports, we have not received any evidence of videos showing or promoting the Momo challenge on YouTube,” a spokesperson said.
“Content of this kind would be in violation of our policies and removed immediately.”
The Momo Challenge actually started to get attention in August 2018 but has suddenly regained its popularity after being posted online.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Support services are available for children and teens at Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800.

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