The world is a big place full of discovery and wonder especially for our fledgling offspring. However (perhaps as-ever), there are a few out there who seek to take advantage of the vulnerable and ruin it for the rest of us.

The latest round of Cyber-Bullying, sickness-inducing nonsense being spread around cyber space is the “MOMO Challenge”, a successor to the BlueWhale Challenge that came before it.

In both cases, malicious idiots are targeting teenagers and the very young in an attempt to make contact and encourage them to complete “dares”, along with more sinister other things…

Perhaps less serious (certainly in this case), it has been alleged that the whole premise of the “challenge” is to harvest data, and the BBC have quoted a police officer saying the whole MOMO challenge is “clearly run by hackers looking for information”. All this pales in comparison to the alleged tasks being set to our young and vulnerable.

“MOMO” – The creepy doll that is setting malicious task is actually a Sculpture of an Ubume, a character found in Japanese Folk Lore.

MOMO – The Hideous Truth or the Horrendous Lie?

What were are being told:

MOMO targets young children and Teens on social media.

The doll encourages them to add a contact on messaging service WhatsApp, then hounds them with violent images and dares.

It encourages them to self-harm and the ultimate post tells them to take their own lives.

A ‘curse contact’ sends a number and tells you to contact them on WhatsApp.

One video of such an interaction reported in America , shows an ominous-sounding (Very Creepy) voice recording being sent to a child telling them to take a knife to their own throat. Another threatens family if a ‘challenge’ is not completed. It’s truly chilling viewing.

However:

The whole thing is apparently “Fake News” but is gianing traction because of the coverage.

There are variations and of course imitators, as if the original idea wasn’t bad enough! In 2017, it was BlueWhale (Much the same thing minus the creepy doll), and now it’s this thing. Undoubtedly this will carry on into the futur, and even if it is all a HOAX, the lessons taken should remain.

Regardless of whether it was originally a lie or hoax, with the media coverage it’s gettting, expect it to be there for the foreseeable. Cyber-bullying, much like bullying in general is a destructive and horrible experience. Staying safe while online should be an important lesson you teach your children.

Protect your Kids from Cyber Bullying

It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but it’s not impossible. First things first, a key point as always is to have open dialogue with your children…

That’s Right! SPEAK TO THEM! and keep speaking to them. Communication is key in most aspects of life and this serves as no exception. Make sure you have regular conversations with your children and encourage them to speak to you when they are concerned.

  • Keep track of what your children are accessing online, and check internet history.
  • Teach your children digital hygiene and the importance of personal data
  • Ensure children understand that no-one has the right to make them do anything they don’t want to.
  • Use any parental controls possible

Warning Signs

The NSPCC publishes advice and guidance for parents on discussing online safety with their children, as well as Net Aware – the UK’s only parental guide to social media and gaming apps.

Among the most common signs to watch out for include children who:

  • Become very secretive, especially about what they are doing online
  • Are spending a lot of time on the internet and social media
  • Are switching screens on their device when approached
  • Are withdrawn or angry after using the internet or sending text messages
  • Have lots of new phone numbers or email addresses on their devices

If adults are concerned or have any questions on how to approach the subject with their children, they can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or visit the NSPCC website.

Children who are worried about their activity on apps or online games can contact Childline 24 hours a day, online and over the phone on 0800 1111.

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