RE: Safeguarding concern – Momo challenge
I am writing to make you aware of a potential harmful and dangerous social media based game called the Momo challenge. The information below has been taken from numerous newspapers and online safety advice sites.
The Momo challenge:
A creepy woman doll with straggly hair, protruding eyes and a devil grin called ‘Momo’ pops up in what appear to be normal episodes in Youtube Kids and Peppa Pig cartoons. The doll encourages children to add her as a contact on the messaging service WhatsApp, then hounds them with violent images and dares.
Once sucked into the game, children are threatened if they try not to take part in the series of challenges. These have been reported to escalate into self-harm and suicide. Dubbed the ‘suicide killer game,’ Momo has been heavily linked with other apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, and most recently YouTube Kids. Games such as Minecraft and Fortnite have also potentially been affected. A secondary threat comes from youtubers with their own channels that many children follow; they are highlighting and encouraging the game without identifying the dangers, particularly for younger children.
I understand from one press release that the Momo character is actually a prop called ‘Mother Bird’ made by the Japanese special effects company Link Factory and the creators have distanced themselves from the game.
The apps and websites have reportedly been hacked and even though the ‘Momo challenge’ appears sinister it is potentially about gaining information.
National Online Safety created a parent guide which I enclose with this letter, downloaded from the following link. Please note neither KNGS nor myself have any affiliation with National Online Safety, just the resource seemed appropriate to share.
I have today delivered an assembly to Year 7 and 8 students explaining that there is no risk to them or their family and that if they come across ‘Momo’ to ignore it and report it; the Momo image was not shared with them. I have also delivered the same assembly to Years 9, 10 and 11 but I have shared the image with the added instruction not to use the Momo challenge to intentionally scare or bully other students. If this happens, sanctions will be implemented.
If you require more information a generalised online search for ‘Momo challenge advice for parents’ will return numerous newspaper articles and safety information sites.
Mr D Gunn – Deputy Headteacher