Disturbing Momo Challenge a ‘teachable moment’ for kids, social media expert says

Challenge encourages children to do harmful tasks

A disturbing social media challenge that encourages participants to do dangerous things has made a comeback.

The Momo Challenge involves participants receiving social media invitations on platforms like WhatsApp and Snapchat to message an account called Momo. The account is linked to an image of a doll with long black hair, large eyes and a scary-looking smile.

The account may send disturbing images and instructions for different tasks that need to be completed along with threats about what will happen if the tasks are not carried out.

Darren Laur, an internet and social media safety advocate with the West Shore-based company The White Hatter, said there were many reports that children were harming themselves and even dying as a result of the challenge. Laur said that isn’t the case.

“It’s a hoax that is propagating and now, as a result of that, too many parents are believing it’s killing kids around the world when in fact that isn’t happening,” Laur said.

However, Laur said the images and messages associated with the challenge that can pop up in videos online and on social media can be frightening for children.

“What isn’t a hoax is how graphic it is,” Laur said. “If a young person sees it, it can be very, very scary.”

READ MORE: Police foreces warn of risks around online ‘Momo Challenge’

Laur said educating parents about the Momo Challenge and using it as a teachable moment is important for kids. He said that while it is recommended that children under Grade 4 should not be online unsupervised, the reality is that doesn’t always happen.

“Too many parents are letting their younger kids go online totally unsupervised which means when they come across something like this it could be quite emotionally and psychologically damaging or concerning,” Laur said.

Laur presents about online safety to many youths and parents and said when he is talking to older kids in middle school and high school, they know what the challenge is but laugh it off because they know it isn’t real. He said the concern is younger kids seeing the Momo Challenge posts and believing them.

READ MORE: Netflix: ‘Please do not hurt yourselves with the Bird Box Challenge’

Laur said a problem is that some kids might see the challenge and believe it to be true. He said it is important for parents to get ahead of the game and talk to their kids about things like online safety.

“Do it in a teachable moment, don’t try to scare them,” Laur said. “Let’s enlighten and not frighten.”

Younger children should be supervised when online, using devices in areas where they can be monitored and not in places like their bedrooms, Laur suggested.

“It comes down to education but in order to do that parents need to know the information,” Laur said. “The problem with the Momo Challenge is it’s being spun into this moral panic by the parents.”

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Northern Health assuring public it has declared no public exposure events or outbreaks

As of Sept. 17, there are 241 cases in the Northern Health Authority region

Single-engine aircraft crashes near Telkwa

Two occupants of the plane sustained minor injuries and were transported to hospital

Cullen announces bid for provincial NDP nomination for Stikine riding

Current MLA Donaldson not seeking re-election

Anne Marie Sam seeks NDP nomination for Nechako Lakes riding

She also ran in 2017 but was defeated by BC Liberal John Rustad

Northern Health records 1st fatality due to COVID-19

Six people died from the novel coronavirus on the weekend, health officials confirm

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Most Read