N/B - There is no picture of Momo in this article.
According to online rumours, Momo sends messages via Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube videos encouraging children to do a series of dangerous things culminating in suicide.
A report connecting a child's suicide in Argentina to Momo appeared last summer, but it was never confirmed that Momo played a role in that suicide. The panic over Momo reignited this month after a couple of social media posts from concerned parents went viral, and tabloids and local news stations ran with the story.
Police have suggested that rather than focusing on the specific Momo meme, parents could use the opportunity to educate children about internet safety, as well as having an open conversation about what children are accessing.
Psychologist's advice to parents is as follows:
Show them the origin: The Momo figure, who has wide eyes and a creepily stretched-out mouth, is based on a statue called "Mother Bird" designed by Japanese artist Keisuke Aisawa for a special effects company called Link Factory. It is just a sculpture and has nothing to do with reality.
The game works by 'doxxing': This means it pretends it has information on a person it will use against them if they don't go along with what it says. Explain to your kids what doxxing is and reassure them that the game knows nothing about them. Doxxing is the Internet-based practice of researching and broadcasting private or identifiable information (especially personally identifiable information) about an individual or organisation.
Reassure them with love: Explain that no matter what the game tells them, that you will never reject them. Make sure they understand that even their most shameful secrets couldn't alter how much they are loved.
Create a 'worry time opportunity' for them daily: Help young kids to write a worry down and pop it in a worry box. You can then chat about that worry the next day. Communication is key, so creating a daily space for this means you are on top of any issues.
Check their phones and gadgets: It's your right to spot check should you wish to. If you think your child may have been contacted or affected, then it's better to know.
Ask them about other kids' behaviours: Children are often very perceptive and will pick up on peers who are struggling.
Load an app on their phone: There are plenty of apps for parents to check children's online interaction, such as Qustodio.
Tell them predators exist, but monsters, like Momo do not: Remind them that there are bad people in the world - but not supernatural and certainly not Momo.
For more information on keeping your children safe online - visit the links below: