Remember the infamous Momo Challenge (nothing to do with wolfing down dim sums) which was plaguing the internet a year ago?
It appears that it has made a comeback and to no one’s surprise it is YouTube which has become the medium for the dangerous challenge’s propagation.
YouTube videos of popular kid shows such as Peppa Pig have suddenly started showing the ‘Momo Challenge’ character girl popping up in the middle of the episodes, as per a report by Manchester Evening News. This comes after YouTube was pulled up for putting violent and disturbing content as suggestions for YouTube Kids.
The character, which is a Japanese doll figure with bulging eyes and a creepy grin, encourages children to harm themselves and do dangerous tasks which could culminate in suicide. The doll will ask the intended target to contact an anonymous person on a WhatsApp number, after which this person shares violent images and dares. Peer pressure or social exclusion have been touted as possible reasons that children might even consider doing this challenge, as per a report by fact-checking website Snopes.
Social media challenges are nothing new. From the less dangerous Kiki challenge or ALS Ice bucket challenge to challenges like immolating oneself, the internet has been brimming with challenges for some time now. The ‘Momo Challenge’ is quite reminiscent of the Blue Whale Challenge which also had the same modus operandi.
However, apart from the obvious manipulation of children into committing self-harm, BBC has said that the resurfacing of Momo Challenge could be a ploy by hackers to gain information.
In India, the Momo Challenge claimed the life of two children while the Blue Whale Challenge has at least five suspected cases of suicide.
YouTube has commented on the challenge coming up on its platform. According to YouTube, no recent evidence of these videos has been seen on its platform.
Considering that YouTube, as well as YouTube Kids, is becoming a cesspool of harmful content for children, it is pertinent that parents monitor their child’s YouTube activity. Signs that your son/daughter might be involved in any of the challenges could be any of the following.
- Secretive online activities
- Spending an unusually high amount of time on social media
- Hiding the screen when you come into view
- Start feeling withdrawn or angry after using the internet
- Having multiple phone numbers or email IDs
It’s important to have a frank conversation with children if any of the above symptoms surface.
Suicide is not the answer to anything. If you are feeling an urge for self-harm please contact AASRA’s 24 x7 helpline number: 022 2754 6669