News on Sunday

Momo Challenge : vigilance required

Momo challenge has resurfaced on the internet again and it has been a worrying issue for parents across the world. Mauritius is not spared either. CERT-MU Security Alert has issued a security alert to warn parents against this gaunt and terrifying doll that asks the viewer to participate in deadly challenges. 

According to security alert of CERT-MU, the dangerous suicidal game “Momo Challenge” has made its appearance again and is targeting children through online videos on YouTube. As per various news sources, Momo Challenges are being integrated into kid’s videos such as Peppa Pig and video game Fortnite in an attempt to target more vulnerable children.

Several cases have been reported across Mauritius. Both young people and adults can fall prey to this trap but the youth is more vulnerable. Psychologist Anjali Bungaleea rings the alarm bell but at the same time asked parents not to panic. She affirms that the issue is here and so is the solution. “Cyber criminals are using the children as bait as they are aware this will bring a stir in the society. Parents should be in constant communication with their children. They should know how many hours their children are spending online. If it is too much, they must inquire. The role of parents is more important. Children also should respect the authority of their parents.” 

If children are behaving strangely, such as being too introvert or too violent, parents should inquire on this kind of behavior and seek help, says the psychologist. 

What is the Momo Challenge?

It is stated that the Momo Challenge appears like an advertisement when children are watching popular kids’ videos on YouTube and tries to befriend them. “The Momo challenge appears in the middle of the video when it is playing. The challenge shows kids demonstrating how to carry out dangerous tasks – for example, cutting wrists, swallowing large quantities of pills or even light up the stove when parents are sleeping and leave it. The Momo Challenge is like an app and tells children that they can call, text or meet her. When children call her, she is going to hang up and this can start getting freaky.”

When you text her if we could be friends, she will say: “Yes, we can be best friends”. She also says “She could be in your dreams or she could kill you”. When you ask to meet her, she will tell you to come to her house. She will send the address and probably harm the child. She also demonstrates her naked body to the child. We would like to bring to the attention of parents that the Momo Challenge encourages children to commit violent acts or harm themselves. In the past, the Momo Challenge has been linked to more than 100 deaths of teens and children around the world.

momo effectBritain: A five-year-old girl cuts her hair

The most recent case that made the buzz on the web was recorded in Britain. The British online newspaper Metro News reported that a five-year-old girl cut her hair after seeing a video suddenly appear while watching a cartoon. In fact, it is the character of the dangerous challenge that gave her the order. The Irish authorities shared a prevention message on Facebook warning parents. “The real danger comes from hackers who put pressure on children to force them to obey the instructions of applications through these challenges.”

International media outlets are describing this challenge as a hoax. “Parents are complaining that the creepy “Momo” doll is still appearing on YouTube videos, even though the phenomena were found to be a malicious hoax. The so-called Momo suicide challenge was feared to be targeting young people on social media and encouraging them to hurt themselves or friends. It took the form of a “doll figure with bulging eyes and a creepy grin”, reported the BBC.

Advice to parents 

CERT-MU advises the public and parents to be vigilant when children are watching videos online. The various precautions advices are the following: 

  • If your child watches videos on YouTube, it is advised to download the video and turn off Wi-fi to avoid any the popping up of any advertisements
  • Install parental control software on the tablet or computer of your child to prevent them from accessing inappropriate websites
  • Verify your children Whatsapp contacts.
  • Parents need to maintain an effective communication with the kids. Take interest in what they do and spend their time in.
  • Give them space enough to let them unfold their feelings without restraint.
  • Instead of complaining or reprimanding them about their spending time by themselves or for crying, try to understand the reason for such behaviour.
  • Make it a rule to talk to your child for 20 minutes every day and let them do the talking. This will help you to read any signs of trouble that they may be going through.
  • As the world is getting digitized, it is extremely important for you to bridge that gap by staying updated of their digital activity. Keep an eye on what they do on the internet and their mobile.