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Let's Talk #MomoChallenge

I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, and LGBT advocacy.

Deemed A Hoax And A Ghost Story

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Momo And The Momo Challenge Are Scary, Awful - And [Likely] Nothing More Than A Ghost Story

When I first heard about the Momo Challenge and clapped eyes on #Momo for the first time, I was a bit frightened. The image of the purported Momo looked exactly like the stuff my nightmares would conjure from time to time, and with the news that someone claiming to be this birdlike creature was trying to convince little kids to hurt themselves I felt angry and a bit scared for my own kids, who are 10 and 14.

Before I did some research into Momo, which I will get into in a minute, I had a conversation with my kids. The oldest knew about it but was unconcerned, and frankly, I couldn't blame her. At nearly 14 and a half, she knows better than to follow the machinations of a person who she doesn't know and doesn't even look human. I believed my 10-year-old was of a similar mindset, but she, of course, was quite concerned that such an abomination would even exist. Both reported that neither had seen Momo in their internet travels, and I believed them.

Then I started really reading what was popping up in my feeds.

If you do a Google search of the term "momo," you currently get 356 million hits, which means the internet is abuzz with this creature. That also means there is a lot of information out there that will either be true or not.

Unfortunately for us as a society, our alarm about our most vulnerable populations - our children - potentially being preyed upon leaves us as the victims. I'm not saying that we shouldn't have age-appropriate conversations with our children in the wake of this news about being careful online and telling parents or at the very least older siblings that there are frightening things being encountered online. That would be incredibly reckless. However, we are knee deep in a sea of articles being posted by the second about Momo and the Momo Challenge, and while on its surface, the whole situation is serious and frightening, there is not a whole lot of fact.

YouTube itself has tweeted that it has seen no "recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube" and that such videos are in direct contravention of its policies. The Ontario Provincial Police has stated that while the Momo Challenge appears to be a hoax, the entire situation should be used as an educational opportunity for parents and kids to have a discussion about being safe while navigating the internet.

In fact, the Momo Challenge first surfaced in 2016, but in spite of multiple posts across social media that suggest kids have been harmed or even killed in the wake of the so-called challenge, no authorities have ever confirmed that children have been injured or killed as a result of the Momo Challenge.

CTV News, among other agencies, has stated that "none of these claims [that children have been harmed] have ever been confirmed by authorities." In fact, any warnings police agencies in Canada and the United Kingdom have issued have been based on secondhand information instead of any firsthand reports that have been received by the police.

So while there doesn't appear to be definitive evidence to completely rule the Momo Challenge as a full-blown hoax, indications appear to be that it's in fact the equivalent of a viral ghost story.

Why has it gained so much traction online, though?

Fear is a powerful motivator, and certainly, as a parent myself, I get the motivation to warn other parents and children about a depraved individual that would suggest to children that they harm themselves. We want to protect our kids, and that's a natural instinct. However, the rampant spread of warnings and alerts about the supposed "challenge" has served only to make all of us more fearful about Momo rather than taking any information that we see on social media and investigating it further.

I'm not saying we don't need to take the time to have appropriate conversations with our kids about the Momo Challenge or even about any awful internet trends that we hear about that could potentially put our kids - or other vulnerable members of society - in danger. However, we also need to take the time to see where we're getting our information from.

Comments

Farrah Young from Lagos, Nigeria on March 02, 2019:

I got to know about this challenge and my first reaction was fear; fear at the fact my nephews could easily get access to it (my kid is still so little).

Then i got angry that something so vile could be so recklessly posted online and I have been on a campaign to sensitize my nephews and every other person around me on why they should ignore momo if they ever came across it.

I hope these statements from these bodies are true and the challenge is actually just a hoax.

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