If you’ve seen the news or been on social media recently, chances are you’ve seen stories about the Momo Challenge.
As the co-founder of Axis, a ministry for parents and teens dedicated to empowering the next generation to think clearly and critically about what they believe and to take ownership of their faith, we make it a point to stay on top of the latest trends involving our kids. Here is information on the latest, disturbing “challenge” and what we can do to help our kids be aware and safe.
What is the Momo Challenge?
It’s an online challenge that targets teens, tweens and even younger children (via snippets in YouTube Kids videos). The challenge encourages kids to contact an unknown person called Momo (represented by a sculpture of a woman with a gaunt face, bulging eyes, and creepy smile) via WhatsApp or Facebook primarily.
The Momo account then sends them violent and graphic images and texts telling them to engage in various “challenges” that start out small and strange, then escalate to harming themselves and others, possibly culminating in the final challenge of committing suicide.
In order to prove they are completing the challenges, kids are supposed to send photographic or video evidence of them completing the tasks. If they ever try to stop, the Momo account threatens to expose them and/or harm them and their loved ones.
Unfortunately, no one knows for sure who or how many people started it, not if copycat accounts are now perpetuating it.
Is it real?
Some news sources claim kids are participating in dangerous activities due to the Momo Challenge, and others claim it is a hoax being used to stir hype and fear-mongering.
What can we do as parents?
Regardless of its veracity, it’s better to preemptively address it, rather than hope and pray you never have to reactively deal with it or something similar. With older kids, it’s important to ask if they or their friends have encountered it Also, make sure they know what to do if they ever see disturbing, graphic, or harmful images or are contacted by unknown accounts. With younger kids, even if you don’t bring up the actual challenge, use this opportunity to talk to them about what to do if they see or hear something scary or weird. It’s also never a bad idea to use parental controls and to keep screens in public places and common areas. Above all, ask God to protect your kids’ hearts and minds, to give you discernment and wisdom, and to give you the strength to be their safe haven.
More information and guides to know and understand your kids’ world can be found at www.Axis.org
David Eaton co-founded Axis in 2007.
Photo courtesy: Saketh Garuda/Unsplash