Disturbing Momo Challenge a ‘teachable moment’ for kids, social media expert says

Challenge encourages children to do harmful tasks

A disturbing social media challenge that encourages participants to do dangerous things has made a comeback.

The Momo Challenge involves participants receiving social media invitations on platforms like WhatsApp and Snapchat to message an account called Momo. The account is linked to an image of a doll with long black hair, large eyes and a scary-looking smile.

The account may send disturbing images and instructions for different tasks that need to be completed along with threats about what will happen if the tasks are not carried out.

Darren Laur, an internet and social media safety advocate with the West Shore-based company The White Hatter, said there were many reports that children were harming themselves and even dying as a result of the challenge. Laur said that isn’t the case.

“It’s a hoax that is propagating and now, as a result of that, too many parents are believing it’s killing kids around the world when in fact that isn’t happening,” Laur said.

However, Laur said the images and messages associated with the challenge that can pop up in videos online and on social media can be frightening for children.

“What isn’t a hoax is how graphic it is,” Laur said. “If a young person sees it, it can be very, very scary.”

READ MORE: Police foreces warn of risks around online ‘Momo Challenge’

Laur said educating parents about the Momo Challenge and using it as a teachable moment is important for kids. He said that while it is recommended that children under Grade 4 should not be online unsupervised, the reality is that doesn’t always happen.

“Too many parents are letting their younger kids go online totally unsupervised which means when they come across something like this it could be quite emotionally and psychologically damaging or concerning,” Laur said.

Laur presents about online safety to many youths and parents and said when he is talking to older kids in middle school and high school, they know what the challenge is but laugh it off because they know it isn’t real. He said the concern is younger kids seeing the Momo Challenge posts and believing them.

READ MORE: Netflix: ‘Please do not hurt yourselves with the Bird Box Challenge’

Laur said a problem is that some kids might see the challenge and believe it to be true. He said it is important for parents to get ahead of the game and talk to their kids about things like online safety.

“Do it in a teachable moment, don’t try to scare them,” Laur said. “Let’s enlighten and not frighten.”

Younger children should be supervised when online, using devices in areas where they can be monitored and not in places like their bedrooms, Laur suggested.

“It comes down to education but in order to do that parents need to know the information,” Laur said. “The problem with the Momo Challenge is it’s being spun into this moral panic by the parents.”

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kootenay curling in the spotlight

Kootenay curling is front and centre this month across the province. Not… Continue reading

Ktunaxa, supporters celebrate protection of Qat’muk and the Jumbo valley

Speeches, acknowledgements and ceremonies mark an emotional gathering in Cranbrook

Jumbo Valley to be protected, ending decades-long dispute over proposed ski resort

Development rights permanently retired for site of proposed year-round ski resort west of Invermere

Matt Andersen to tear it up in Cranbrook

Canadian singer, songwriter and guitarist showcasing new album at February concert at Key City Theatre

It happened this week in 1913

Jan. 12 -18: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the newspapers at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

Alberta bulldog breeder ordered to give refund to B.C. buyer due to puppy’s behaviour

Tribunal ruled a verbal agreement to send a new dog superseded the written contract

Man dies in backcountry near Nelson’s Whitewater Ski Resort

The victim was found unresponsive in a tree well Friday

Cariboo Memorial Hospital back to normal after cold weather wreaks havoc

Burst pipes and water leaks cause three different incidents

Dog reunited with Tofino owner, months after being taken from beach

Shannon Boothman ‘ecstatic’ at pet’s return after a tip leads to social media search

Huawei exec’s extradition hearing begins in Canada

China’s foreign ministry complained the United States and Canada were violating Meng’s rights

Prince Harry: ‘Powerful media’ is why he’s stepping away

Prince Harry and Megan have stepped away from their royal commitments

How to beat Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year

Multiple factors can play a role in seasonal depression, says Fraser Health psychiatrist

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Most Read