Is the Momo Challenge A Hoax on Social Media?

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Is the Momo Challenge A Hoax on Social Media?

February 27, 2019
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Table of Contents

Similar to the Blue Whale Challenge, the Momo Challenge is a dangerous viral social media trend with teens and tweens. The challenge encourages students to contact an unknown person called “Momo” via WhatsApp.

Is The Momo Challenge A Hoax? There are claims that the Momo Challenge is a hoax. However, the Tide Pod Challenge and Blue Whale Challenge were said to be hoaxes as well, until real students harmed themselves (or died by suicide) while participating. Students will sometimes believe these anonymous challenges and take part in the games. Please take a moment to learn about this type of challenge and dialog with your students about it. Also watch this video to learn how we make our app guides (and how you can do your own research).

Why is it important to highlight and provide truth to a trend people think could be a hoax?

  • Your kids may believe popular trends, even if they are intended by the creator to be a hoax
  • In our experience, social media challenges (like the Blue Whale Challenge) can start off as a hoax but then gain attention online (which gets many students taking the challenge seriously)
  • Learning about viral social media challenges before your children can help you keep them safe (and prevent them from trying the challenge with their friends)

Learn about the Momo Challenge in Josh's video:

Learn about the Momo Challenge on our Smart Social Podcast:

Parents & Educators: Take The Next Step And Join Josh's Next Free Webinar To Learn: How To Navigate The Negative Effects of Student Social Media (And Help Your Student Shine Online)

What is the Momo Challenge?

  • Throughout the Momo challenge, students are sent violent and graphic images and texts. If students want to stop the challenge “Momo” threatens to leak their personal information
  • Then, the stranger asks students to share photos and videos of themselves completing certain tasks
  • At first the tasks are small. For example: face a fear, wake up at weird hours throughout the night
  • The tasks escalate until the final task which encourages students to kill themselves
  • Images associated with “Momo” are based off of Japanese doll artists Linkfactory but the artists are in no way involved with the Momo challenge
  • WhatsApp, YouTube, and Facebook are the primary networks for the challenge

Why should parents care about the Momo Challenge?

  • If your student is participating in this challenge they are in danger
  • Students who partake in the Momo Challenge are actively communicating with strangers who intend to encourage self-harm
  • The Momo Challenge is not specific to one country, it is global
  • Law enforcement officials are investigating the suicide of a 12 year old student in Argentina whose death they believe is associated with the Momo Challenge
  • The Momo Challenge can feel real for students and may push them to harm themselves
  • Students are exposed to violent and graphic images throughout the challenge
  • Some students have reported that it’s easy to come across “Momo” on Facebook and YouTube and that it’s easy to connect with the character on WhatsApp

The Momo Challenge in the News

Police around the world are warning parents of a disturbing, violent internet challenge [the momo challenge] that could be encouraging children to take their own life. –ABC
Girl Takes Own Life in Possible Case of 'Momo Challenge,' a Dangerous New Social Media Game –Inside Edition

What can parents do about the Momo Challenge?

  • Consider talking about the Momo Challenge with your students and ask them if they have heard about it
  • Discuss the dangers of the challenge and remind them that “Momo” is not a fictional character but rather a real person with negative intentions
  • Teach your children to never communicate with strangers on social media and to never share personal information online
  • Remind your children that they can always talk to you about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable on social media
  • Learn about viral social media challenges before your children so that you can help keep them safe
  • Encourage your children to only use social media as a tool to improve their digital footprint and have fun with friends (in a safe way)

Toll-free support lines to call:

  • Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-2433
  • Crisis Call Center: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Lifeline Crisis Chat: CrisisChat.org

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