The Momo Challenge – Information for Parents and Guardians
Yesterday, several schools across the UK reported issues relating to children having seen videos on YouTube containing a character called ‘Momo’.
What it is
Labelled the “suicide challenge”, Momo is a new viral game that encourages players to perform a series of challenges in order to meet “Mother Bird” – a disfigured character with bulging eyes and untidy black hair on a chicken-like body.
Light-hearted and fun at the outset, this game experience quickly darkens, encouraging players to perform acts of violence and self-harm through a series of progressively risky challenges. Originating in Mexico, it is easily accessed through social media (predominately YouTube and Facebook) and is rapidly spreading across the world.
Why It’s on Our Radar
Obviously, these challenges issued in the game present a serious risk to the safety, welfare and wellbeing of the children in our school, as does the distressing content when a player refuses to carry on. So far, this game has been linked to at least five cases of childhood suicide.
- Players are encouraged to contract Momo and provide their mobile number.
- They will then receive instructions to perform a series of challenges, via SMS or WhatsApp.
- Player refusal to participate can trigger severely abusive messaging and their mobile device being hacked.
- The final challenge is to commit suicide in order to meet ‘Mother Bird’.
Why Children Like It
Sharing and commentary on Social Media has created a level of intrigue and curiosity about this game, which is initially light-hearted and fun. There are videos on YouTube where the character, Momo, appears in “hijacked” versions of familiar TV shows such as Peppa Pig in order to make the initial “challenge” to children.
Fundamentally, however, this is a game that targets vulnerable children and young people online, as those with mental health issues are more likely to be drawn to the psychological nature of the challenges.
What to Do
A person doesn’t have to be searching for Momo themselves to be exposed to it.
Here at Easington Colliery Primary School we educate children to say no to invitations from strangers to play games online, to stick to trusted websites, and that if they see anything that worries or upsets them, that they should talk to an adult right away. Please support your children in making sensible choices when online, and be vigilant of their online activity, as the Momo character can appear in seemingly harmless YouTube videos.