SAN BRUNO (KPIX 5) — A new viral internet concern targeting children and encouraging them to commit suicide is striking fear into the hearts of parents and law enforcement.
The “Momo Challenge” is raising concern because, though it might be a hoax, it has potential for legitimate consequences.
The challenged is based on a piece of unrelated Japanese art, which is spliced into the middle of children-friendly videos like Peppa Pig and Fortnite. The embedded video issues a series of challenges for children to complete, ending with the goal of children harming themselves or, ultimately, committing suicide.
ALSO READ: YouTube Suspends Comments On Videos Of Kids
This particular phenomena popped up this past summer as well, when warnings were issued by schools in the United Kingdom and police in Ireland.
“These things do pop up, which is what worries people. With this one in particular, there’s nothing that actually proves that it’s real, but it’s caused law enforcement to be worried, which is why everyone is talking about it right now,” says Ian Scherr, Editor-at-Large for CNET.
There’s some suspicion and worry that the Momo Challenge is a way to get children to chat with strangers on WhatsApp or to get personal information from them.
Scherr says this is a teachable moment.
“This is a great example of a reminder of whether this is real or not–it’s important to be aware of what people are doing on the internet, especially teenagers and children,” Scherr said.
“You need to be aware of what they are looking at, what they’re talking to, who they’re talking to and all of these types of things–because even if this isn’t real, it’s a reminder that they can get into pretty tough stuff if they’re not paying attention.”
YouTube issued a statement saying they haven’t seen any recent activity involving “The MoMo Challenge,” but content like that is against their policy and parents should flag the videos if they do see them.