By now, you’ve probably heard of the “Momo Challenge” - the creepy, birdlike female sculpture that allegedly encouraged kids to commit suicide or acts of self-harm via YouTube videos and the internet. This rumor exploded in March 2019, and we wanted to take a moment to let you know that there’s no need to worry: it’s all a complete hoax.
What to Know About the Momo Challenge - How Did the Rumor Start?
The creepy and unsettling sculpture, which looks like a woman with black stringy hair, bulging eyes, and a bird-like body, was actually created by a Japanese special effects company and displayed as an art piece.
To sum up the Momo Challenge, it supposedly went something like this: individuals (usually teens or kids) communicate with a leader/moderator on WhatsApp (a messaging app that is much more popular overseas than here in the U.S.).
This mysterious leader gives the young teen or child a series of tasks that start out relatively mundane (e.g., to watch a movie or listen to a song) but that ultimately culminate in self-harm or even suicide, much like the Blue Whale Challenge which also turned out to be a hoax.
Momo Challenge does not exist, it is a hoax. There is no leader/moderator sending messages to future suicide victims.
Why We Must Be Cautious About What We Hear
When talk of the “challenge” exploded all over the internet, parents were understandably panicked. News outlets were sending out dire warnings about keeping kids away from Momo.
While we agree that the Momo visual is disturbing enough (for anyone), there’s no basis in fact and continuing to spread this rumor when no children have been harmed by this figure makes the situation worse. While most people are well-intentioned, spreading the word before key information is known fans the flames of the rumor mill.
The Momo Challenge was mostly based on reports from international tabloids and no legitimate media source or law enforcement agency has provided any evidence that the Momo Challenge actually existed or threatened the safety of kids and teens.
Parents can rest easy. If you’re ever unsure, make sure to check in with reputable sources about a possible online threat.
By now you know that the Momo Challengeis notreal. However, the internet can still be a cruel and scary place at times.
Take this as an opportunity to create open communication about the internet between you and your child or teen.
Help foster the kind of relationship where, if they come across anything scary, confusing, hurtful, or creepy online, they come to you first. This will help keep your kids alert and aware of the kinds of people they may encounter online, plus create an open dialogue around their interactions with others, both positive and negative (such as bullying, or harassment).
Lastly, if your child or teen is the victim of bullying or harassment online, there’s help and many resources available to them on the STOMP Out Bullying website, so be sure to visit and share the link with them.