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

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

A mockup of the proposed public safety building on Third Avenue in Port Alberni. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni chooses location for new public safety building

Community policing programs will be run out of new office

Roxy Manson (far right) collects community sock donations from Walk the Coast. Manson collected more than 500 pairs of socks with her “Warm Socks to Warm Hearts” campaign. The socks will be distributed to community members who are living in the cold. (PHOTO COURTESY CAM MCARTHUR)
Alberni teen collects more than 500 pairs of socks for people in need

Warm Socks to Warm Hearts campaign ran throughout the month of November

The Alberni District Secondary School musical theatre class will be putting on a virtual performance of Shrek the Musical Jr. (PHOTO COURTESY TARYN POTTER)
ADSS musical theatre class puts a twist on fairy tales

Shrek the Musical Jr. will be a virtual performance due to COVID-19

Dave Heinrichs, general manager of Alberni District Co-op, and Paulette Schwartz, manager of the Liquor Depot. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Co-op buys Liquor Depot in Port Alberni

Co-op members in Port Alberni will soon be able to enjoy their benefits when purchasing liquor

An air ambulance leaves West Coast General Hospital for a trauma centre at 9:50 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12 after a Port Alberni youth was injured in an accident on the Somass River. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO
COVID-19 outbreak hits West Coast General Hospital

One unit closed; emergency department still open

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are inviting audiences into their home for ‘A Celtic Family Christmas’. (Submitted)
Natalie MacMaster coming to you through Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Here’s your chance to enjoy the famed fiddler in an online show with her husband Donnell Leahy.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

Most Read