Parental warning: The ‘Momo Challenge’ returns to social media

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A deadly challenge is making a return to various forms of social media.  

The “Momo Challenge” has children contact a stranger who calls themself “Momo” mainly through Facebook and WhatsApp, and more recently, Youtube.

This “being” tells kids to complete tasks if they want to avoid being cursed. These “tasks” include self harm.  It first went viral in 2018, but has recently resurfaced in the United Kingdom. 

The “Momo Challenge” can end with Momo telling kids to take their own life and record it on social media. Last August, a 12-year-old in Argentina actually did that.

“All these apps aren’t approppriate for young children,” said Monique Gorman of Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center. “Even games that are age approppriate, if they have a messaging component, there’s a risk for our children.”

The Momo challenge isn’t the only one of its kind, there’s a similar challenge on a popular CW and Netflix series. 

“On the TV show ‘Riverdale’ there was two kids who actually took their lives during these challenges called the Gargoyle challenges,” Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood said. “Momo is very similar in that nature, and the challenges lead up to a certain point where they’re asked to “well now do you want to fulfill this other obligation.”

Harwood says parents need to be extremely aware of how their children are using their phones.

“I think parents need to be a little more strict on social media, but I think the issue is that the parent is on their phone just as much as the kid, so there’s less oversight of what they’re seeing them do on social media,” said Harwood.

Harwood believes talking to strangers might excite kids, but warns that it’s extremely dangerous.

“I would caution parents as well to say that they should be monitoring who their kids are reaching out to,” he said. “For teenagers, young adults you should absolutely not be reaching out to people that you don’t know. Bad things happen when you reach out to people that you don’t know.” 

Being open and honest with your kids is also a way to keep them safe.

“Open the communication dialogue, you have to be able to trust your kids in order for them to tell you what you want to know. There’s a line to draw with parenting and friendship with your kid, and at the end of the day, we have to be parents,” said Harwood.

Harwood recommends having a joint Youtube account with your kids. Although no one in Central Illinois has died because of the challegne, it’s always good to be prepared and educated about the possible dangers that are out there on social media.

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