The "Momo challenge" - what parents need to know

Dad and son with laptop and tablet

*Please note we have amended this text in response to concerns that Momo is a hoax and that coverage is fuelling fear.

The “Momo challenge” has hit the headlines, and media reports are causing concerns for parents. This is what parents need to know, and what you can do to protect your child.

What is the Momo challenge?

Momo is a creepy doll-like figure which is said to appear in social media, videos and games online, encouraging children to add a contact on WhatsApp. It is said to be used to send violent images and dangerous dares.

Media reports have linked the Momo challenge to self-harm and suicide. However, there are relatively few reports of children having participated in the challenge, and it’s unclear the extent of the concern. Indeed, many reports are now saying this is a hoax. What’s clear is that a lot of people are worried about it, but the instances of harm seem very rare.  The high amount of coverage may also lead to copycat behaviour. 

Protecting your child

Setting age-appropriate boundaries is always important. Younger children should not be using social networking and chat apps at all, and should be supervised when watching videos on sites like YouTube. With older children, it may be appropriate for them to use social media and WhatsApp to talk to their friends, although their networks should be private and they should avoid talking to people they don’t know. Children of any age should be very cautious about adding anyone they don't know to their networks.

Have open conversations about online safety, and let your child know they can come to you if they see anything that upsets or worries them. Read Protecting your child online for more advice about exploring online safety with your child.

Report any concerns to the platform (e.g. YouTube, Instagram).

Teach your child what it means to be assertive and explore saying no to doing things they don't want to do - whether face to face or online.

Overall, be calm and reassuring.  The Momo Meme or image will be frightening for children - even if they have not been subject to any challenge, so make sure your children see that you’re not scared of 'Momo' and that it’s a problem you can solve together.

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