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

Thief steals 2020 Maverick Trail side by side from Ladysmith Motorsport

Ladysmith Motorsport is offering a cash reward for information leading to the return of the unit

Work has started on Malahat Skywalk, expected completion in 2021

$15-million project expected to open in spring, 2021

Baby Bear statue returned to be reunited with Mama and Papa

Culprit left it near the Henry Road roundabout in Chemainus with a note attached

Filming for Resident Alien begins in Ladysmith

Aliens and excitement take over the streets of Ladysmith during new TV series

Nearly 20 individuals accessed LRCA’s cold weather shelter during 2020 snowstorm

Most individuals accessed the shelter for food, showers, laundry, and to warm up

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Bystander who tried to help dog being attacked not liable for its death: B.C. tribunal

Owner of dog killed tried to get $5,000 in damages from man who tried to save it

INFOGRAPHIC: See how fast your B.C. city grew in 2019

The province’s fastest-growing municipalities were located on Vancouver Island

Landowner hearings begin for Trans Mountain expansion in Alberta

Detailed route talks start in Spruce Grove, in B.C. communities soon

VIDEO: Canada looking to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the new virus, with more than 100 deaths

Alessia Cara to host and perform at 2020 Juno Awards

Multi-platinum Canadian singer-songwriter also up for six awards, including Artist of the Year

Watch out for scams, clickbait in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s death: Better Business Bureau

Kobe Bryant and his daughter were killed in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles

‘Very disrespectful’: Headstones at Okanagan cemetery damaged by excavation crew

Headstones at Enderby’s Cliffside Cemetery mistakenly driven over by excavation crew

Despite reports of decline, birds flocking to national parks in Canadian Rockies

Recent studies suggest overall bird population has slid by three billion since 1970

Most Read