The Momo Challenge: The viral new game parents need to know about

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  • A worrying new game that's thought to be encouraging young players to commit suicide has spread to the UK.

    We’ve previously reported on the worrying ‘choking game‘ and the ‘eraser challenge‘ but the latest game some kids are obsessing over is even more concerning, and yet another warning has just been released to alert parents that it has spread to the UK.

    Growing up everyone can remember a game or trend that took over their lunchtime discussions and killed whole days of the six week summer holidays.

    Yet it seems back in the day, the popular pass times were a lot more family-friendly. It seems that there are now many dangerous viral trends that could be potentially life-threatening.

    What is the Momo challenge?

    The Momo challenge, which is focused around a creepy doll figure, is the latest craze that you should be aware of and warn your children against participating in.

    The creepy character is designed by Japanese artist Midori Hayashi. Midori is known for creating dolls related to horror however, he is not associated with the terrifying challenge that has adopted his fictional character.

    Who does it affect?

    The Momo challenge encourages people, targeting children and teens in particular, to join a WhatsApp group.

    According to the Daily Mail it then bombards users with violent pictures and sets a series of tasks for the user to complete.

    The most recent warning to be released about the game has been by police in Northern Ireland, after a mother from Belfast reported finding the creepy game on her seven-year-old daughters iPad just last week.

    The police outlined in their statement that they believe it is clear the game is being used by hackers to harvest information.

    The final task is to commit suicide and is already thought to be the reason behind a 12-year-old girl’s death in Argentina.

    This is very similar to the Blue Whale Challenge, which also started with tongue-in-cheek pranks like waking up early and ended in users being challenged to take their own life.

    In December 2018, a school in New Jersey, Brick Township, delivered a statement to warn parents about the circulation of the very disturbing game.

    And further back in July 2018, Spain’s civil guard took to Twitter to share a warning further encouraging people to not join the group or participate in the challenge.

    Other countries that are reported to have been affected with cases relating to the Momo challenge include France, Germany, Mexico and the United States.

    The hashtag #Momochallenge already has over 400 posts on Instagram and triggers a warning from the site that reads: ‘Posts with words or tags you’re searching for often encourage behaviour that can cause harm and even lead to death. If you’re going through something difficult, we’d like to help.’

    There is then a link that directs people to helplines if they are going through a difficult time. This could be part of Instagram’s attempt to counteract the dangerous challenge.

    How can I protect my child?

    ‘There is a natural tendency to shield children from issues that might cause distress,’ says Alastair Graham, CEO of AgeChecked, a provider of online solutions to retailers of age-restricted goods and services, ‘but unfortunately in some cases youngsters will inevitably come into contact with harmful content such as Momo.

    ‘Therefore, it is advisable to give children the information they need to be safe, whilst helping them to understand the importance of creating boundaries for themselves.

    ‘To achieve this, parents could discuss these dangers with their children as soon as they become aware of them. In doing so, youngsters will be more equipped and empowered to identify this sort of content as dangerous and ultimately avoid it.’

    Have you heard of the Momo Challenge before and have your children been approached to join it? Are there any similar viral trends you think parents should be warned against? Head over to our Facebook page to join the conversation, we’re interested to hear what you have to say. 

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