News Copy – By Emma Elsworthy
Three in 10 kids have already been affected by the deadly suicide game known as the ‘Momo Challenge’ – with one in 20 going on to hurt themselves or others.
Research revealed while 95 per cent of parents are aware of the sinister craze, 30 per cent still haven’t warned their children about the dangers.
The twisted viral prank, which has already been linked to the deaths of two children in Colombia but has now reached the UK, is spread through social media sites like WhatsApp and YouTube
The challenge orders children to self-harm or attack others and if they don’t comply, the game warns its terrifying character Momo will kill the youngster’s family.
The game also tells kids to keep their actions secret from parents or they will be murdered.
Horrified mums and dads have witnessed children trying to slit their wrists, while others have found kids pouring bleach on themselves as the game ‘told them to’.
Other distressed families reported finding sharp kitchen knives stashed under their child’s mattress, with kids instructed to plan attacks on siblings in the night.
Of the children who have accessed the game, 57 per cent were commanded to hurt themselves, while a third were told to do something which would hurt others, such as leaving the gas oven on overnight.
Shockingly, one in 11 was ordered to commit suicide, according to research from parenting site ChannelMum.com.
ChannelMum.com psychologist Emma Kenny said: “The sickest thing about this game is that someone would make it in the first place.
“But it’s out there and thousands of children are being traumatised by it each day.”
The most common age for a child to see the Momo Challenge is just three – with children targeted watching so-called safe videos such as Peppa Pig or Tots Toys YouTube channel.
Children under nine were also heavily targeted, but less than one per cent of kids in secondary school have fallen victim to the evil phenomenon.
Despite the rapid spread of the game, just a third of schools have issued warnings to parents, the study of 1,439 parents found.
The poll revealed YouTube is the most common platform where children have been targeted, with 77 per cent of kids falling victim, followed by WhatsApp, then Facebook.
Nine in 10 parents are calling for web giants to block the game as soon as they are made aware it has infiltrated a platform, with two thirds wanting firms who host it to be heavily fined.
Three quarters also back jailing the makers of the game if they can be traced.
ChannelMum.com psychologist Emma Kenny added: “The game is terrifying, but no matter how frightened your child is by Momo, you can help them overcome their fears.
“Listen, acknowledge how scared they are and reassure them game is not real and no harm will come to them.
“For older children, it can even be a useful lesson on building trust within the family and reinforcing how much you love them.”
HOW TO HELP YOUR KIDS COPE WITH MOMO
By ChannelMum.com Psychologist Emma Kenny
1) Show them the origin. The Momo is a sculpture by a Japanese artist and has nothing to do with reality.
2) The game works by ‘doxxing’ – pretending it has information on a person it will use against you if you don’t go along with what they say. Explain to your kids what doxxing is and reassure them that the game knows nothing about them.
3) Explain that no matter what the game tells them, that you will never reject them. Make sure they understand that even their most shameful secrets couldn’t alter how much they are loved.
4) Create a ‘worry time opportunity’ for them daily. Help young kids to write a worry down and pop it in a worry box. You can then chat about that worry the next day. Communication is key, so creating a daily space for this means you are on top of any issues.
5) Check their phones and gadgets. It’s your money, so it’s your right to spot check should you wish to. If you feel your child may have been contacted then it’s better to know.
6) Ask them about other kid’s behaviours. Children are often very perceptive and will pick up on peers who are struggling.
7) Load an app on their phone so that you can check their interaction, such as Custodio.
8) Tell them that predators exist, but that monsters do not. Remind them that there are bad people in the world – but not supernatural and certainly not Momo.