I am writing to inform you about a viral Internet craze known as the ‘Momo Challenge.’ The challenge encourages people to contact an unknown number known as Momo. They are then sent messages that include violent and disturbing images. The messages also encourage the recipients to take part in various dangerous ‘challenges.’ These challenges can involve the use of weapons such as knives and in some cases reference suicide. People who are contacted by this number are threatened or coerced into feeling that they have to complete these challenges. Even if people do not directly contact the unknown number, there have now been several reports of the Momo character and other deliberately disturbing images linked to the challenges being shared across social media sites such as Instagram. They have also been included in videos on YouTube (including ‘Kids YouTube’). There is a lot of evidence to suggest that young people are being deliberately targeted by the creators of this challenge, as the images have been hidden in videos that claim to be about subjects such as Fortnite and even Peppa Pig.
I am sure that many parents will have also seen the news reports and information about this on social media, however I felt it was vital to ensure that all parents were informed about this issue. We are aware that some of our pupils have expressed concerns or are worried about the challenge and videos. I would therefore encourage all parents to ensure that they are fully aware of any content their children are accessing online and that they are supervised as closely as possible. Encouraging children to be open and honest about their online activity will also result in them feeling more comfortable about talking to an adult if they do see any content that worries them. As part of our e-safety curriculum, we discuss with pupils the potential dangers of communicating or sharing personal details with anyone online that they do not know in real life and in light of recent events, this message is more important than ever.
Some potential ‘warning signs’ to look out for which may indicate your child is access inappropriate content online such as the Momo Challenge are;
More information and advice about how to talk to children about how to use the Internet safely can be found on the NSPCC website https://www.nspcc.org.uk/ .