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

Just Posted

First Nations leader to try for NDP nomination in Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Bob Chamberlin, vice-president of Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, announces intentions

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Anti-masculinity flourishing

Letter writer concerned with anti-masculinity ideologies in schools and universities

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: SNC-Lavalin case is black and white

The rule of law is a fundamental principle in Canada’s constitution, says letter writer

Man sentenced for tying up, assaulting and robbing another man at Nanaimo hotel

Gabriel Stephen Nelson robbed and assaulted travelling businessman in 2017

Scientists disembark in Nanaimo after international expedition probes Pacific salmon

Canadian, American, Russian, Korean and Japanese scientists survey salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Scientists disembark in Nanaimo after international expedition probes Pacific salmon

Canadian, American, Russian, Korean and Japanese scientists survey salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Canucks hang on for 7-4 win over Senators

Horvat nets 2 for Vancouver

Realtor from Nanaimo named president of real estate board

Kaye Broens becomes president of Vancouver Island Real Estate Board

European, Canadian regulators to do own review of Boeing jet

Air Canada plans to remove the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule at least through July 1

Prime minister defends Liberal budget measures as sales effort gets underway

Conservatives under Andrew Scheer say it’s a spree funded by borrowing against the future

Mayor meets with B.C. health minister on homeless taxi transfers

Two homeless people were discharged from Surrey Memorial and sent to a Chilliwack shelter

B.C. lottery winner being sued by co-workers

They claim he owes them $200,000 each, in a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver

Teacher reprimanded for conduct towards special needs student

Alan Stephen Berry told vice principal he did not have time to use positive strategies

‘Full worm super moon’ to illuminate B.C. skies on first day of spring

Spring has sprung, a moon named in honour of thawing soil marks final super moon until 2020

Most Read