In the summer of 2018, a deadly children’s game began making its way through the web. Known as the “Momo Challenge,” the game is controlled by an unknown hacker which gets the attention of children through social media, television programs, and video games. Children are instructed to text an unidentified phone number from which they receive challenges they are supposed to complete. Although they start off small and seemingly innocent, the challenges slowly increase in risk. If the child fails to complete the task, the hacker threatens their lives. Schools are now urging parents to be aware of what their child is looking at on the internet, according to Mirror.
The phone numbers said to be used to text young children these dangerous challenges have been traced all over the world, including Japan, Colombia, and Mexico. Due to texting apps that allow users to set their area code to anywhere in the world, it can be nearly impossible to determine where these hackers are really located. When the news first broke that this was a danger affecting students everywhere, schools took haste to inform parents. Nevertheless, the Momo Challenge has already claimed the life of a 12-year-old girl in Argentina. Police believe that the hacker persuaded the child to take her own life by virtually harassing her and sending her frightening and obscene images, according to Forbes.
Lots of calls about "momo" this morn after a viral Facebook post was shared over the half term holidays. Some sensible advice here; https://t.co/JrqUEwYsyn
— POSHelpline (@UK_SIChelpline) February 25, 2019
Just when it seemed that the horrific challenge had faded away for good, it has now emerged once again in the U.K. This time it is infiltrating children’s programs like Peppa Pig. Because the hacker has taken over shows that most parents deem appropriate for their children to watch without constant supervision, children are being exposed to the game without their parents’ knowledge. Schools, worried parents, child protection agencies, and law enforcement are all speaking out about the challenge, desperate to stop it immediately.
Although parents can set limitations on their children’s devices and block content they don’t want them to view, it is nearly impossible to supervise their use of technology 100 percent of the time. Because of this, police are urging parents to talk to their children about stranger danger and how to be safe on the internet. A spokesperson for the NSPCC urges parents to teach their children how to say no.
“Parents should talk with their children and emphasise that they can make their own choices and discuss ways of how to say no. Reassuring a child that they can still be accepted even if they don’t go along with the crowd will help stop them doing something that could hurt them or make them uncomfortable.”