A ghoulish face accompanied by a smile as wide as the joker’s and terrifying bulging eyes, Momo appears on YouTube in the middle of seemingly innocent children’s programming, encouraging them to self-harm or kill themselves. A 12-year-old girl was reported to have taken her own life in August 2018 after she had been playing the game, stated Buenos Aires Times. Authorities are still investigating claims that her suicide is directly linked to the online challenge.
The Momo challenge allegedly appears four minutes or so after these children’s programmes start. The frightening image then encourages users to make contact with ‘her’ on WhatsApp through one of several contact numbers. The children are usually silent about this appearance because they are told to keep it a secret or Momo will kill them. The victims of the challenge are supposedly given instructions via WhatsApp for an estimated 50 days and are promised a reward of meeting Momo once they complete the challenge.
As the game progresses, Momo’s instructions are said to get increasingly more violent. Starting off with self-harming and ending in suicide – using threats to keep its victims silent and cooperative. The horrifying challenge is said to have first appeared in the United States of America in 2018 and has since spread worldwide. Parents are encouraged to monitor their children’s social media activity.
Parents have since been posting videos of their children’s terrified reactions after being asked if they had indeed seen this Momo doll anywhere. As more parents share these videos on social media, the suggestion that this may in actual fact be a hoax is swiftly dissipating. The face of Momo is in fact a sculpture that was created by a Japanese artist. It is owned by Link-Factory, a special effects company in Japan. However, neither the artist or company have any affiliation to the game. Authorities across the world are still investigating the source of this sinister game.
With our own South African youth becoming increasingly violent – with recent cases of teenagers committing murder as well as an increase in violence against teachers in schools, it is clear that the role that parents play has never been more important. Children have more access to the internet and are therefore in more danger of coming across harmful programming at a more impressionable age. Parents are encouraged to be more vigilant of what online games, videos or reading material their children are consuming. Parents are also encouraged to have honest conversations with their children so that children will not be afraid to be open about the things they may be exposed to both on and off line.