In 2018 the news of a viral social media game called The Momo Challenge circulated around the internet sparking fear in parents with young children who spend hours tapping away on their tablets and laptops. The origins of Momo varies with reports of the dangerous game starting on WhatsApp, players received deadly tasks from an unknown number after initial contact. If players didn’t complete the tasks with recorded proof they risked a visit from a haunting character straight out of a horror film. Other origin stories include a Facebook group cautioning users not to text an unknown number that could belong to “Momo” unless they wanted to be a part of the suicide inducing game. There have even been reports of a 12 year old girl and 16 year old boy in Columbia killing themselves after doing the Momo Challenge. First graders in Brick, New Jersey experienced the trauma of the game spreading around their school. The effects of the Momo could be felt worldwide and as the challenge makes a return to the internet, parents are on high alert for the safety of their children. Online bullying and protecting the youth from the disturbing parts of the internet have become growing issues for decades but this Momo Challenge is a hoax. Simply a fear tactic that continues to pop up and stir up controversy for a couple days to later quickly disappear like a trending topic on Twitter.
The bulging eye woman with similar features to the character from The Grudge is actually a sculpture that is called Mother Bird created by Keisuke Aisawa. Aisawa is a part of a Japanese special effects company named Link Factory and has since distanced his online presence from the viral challenges that have come from people using his artwork. Last week the Momo Challenge made a return to the internet with reports that children were receiving disturbing messages in the middle of videos on the Youtube Kids app. A mother in Florida to took to her Pedi Mom blog to discuss a video that she found in the past that recently resurfaced which gave viewers suicide instructions spliced in between a cartoon video. While Dr. Free Hess is urging Youtube to filter deadly content away from the site and stars like Kim Kardashian have used their platforms with millions of followers to warn parents to monitor their children’s internet activity, Youtube issued a response that they haven’t seen any evidence of videos on the platform promoting the Momo Challenge.
Sites like The Atlantic, The Guardian and Snopes have debunked the stories of Momo popping up in popular videos for children or the viral stories of young people commiting suicide in South America, Argentina and Mexico due to these videos but why can’t Youtube get rid of these challenges for good? While bad content does thrive under the platform’s radar, disturbing moments like the Momo Challenge aren’t new. Similar viral challenges like Slenderman, Jeff the Killer and Blue Whale have ignited similar trends highlighting the importance of child monitoring on the internet but this resource that most parts of the world use on a daily basis is merely a mirror of the society we’re living in. Protecting your child from the dangers of the online world is just as important when it comes to their lives outside of the internet and whether Momo pops up on a Peppa Pig video or not, it’s dangerous to expect these huge media platforms like Youtube or Facebook to shield your children away from the harsh realities of the world. The dust is settling from the online hysteria of last week but don’t be surprised when a new dangerous challenge appears in six months, prepare your children for the next harmful issue to come.
Article By Marcel “The Messenger” Jeremiah