Is 'Momo Challenge' killing teenagers like 'Blue Whale'?
Months after the Blue Whale Challenge took the internet by storm, a new 'game' is doing the rounds, according to reports. The 'Momo Challenge' works similarly: young kids are lured and then threatened if they don't follow orders, which often mean extreme actions. It has gained attention after a 12-year-old Argentinian girl killed herself, purportedly over the 'game.' Here's all you need to know.
What is the Momo Challenge?
The Sun has quoted the Mexican Computer Crime Investigation Unit, which believes the 'game' started in a Facebook group. Members were 'challenged' to contact a particular number. When they did, they received violent images and 'orders' to follow instructions. If they refused, they were threatened.
How far has it spread?
'Momo' has accounts on WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube, reports say, which are connected to three numbers in Columbia, Japan and Mexico. The avatar is a scary Japanese horror artwork called 'Mother Bird' by artist Midori Hayashi. Neither of them is said to have any association to the 'game.' Alleged 'Momo' cases have been reported from the US, France, Germany and Mexico, among others.
'Game' or 'hoax'?
Some cyber experts believe the 'Momo Challenge' is a hoax disguised as a 'game.' Rodrigo Nejm of Brazil-based NGO Safernet told BBC that it appears like the 'game' has been designed as a 'bait' to steal sensitive data of people, which could be used for extortion.
Teenagers, you need to be more assertive
Whether it be a hoax or an actual suicide 'game', children and teenagers need to be assertive and stand up to peer pressure. Respect others' choices and seek respect for yours. If you aren't comfortable doing something, suggest something else to do. Don't hang out with people who might be involved in such 'games.' If you sense your friends are in danger, alert adults.
Parents, you have some duties too
Parents have a responsibility too. Stay updated with what your kids are up to, who they are mixing with, and what they are doing on the computer. Regulate social media use and teach them not to share private details with strangers. Ensure you listen and are sympathetic to their concerns. Help them practice saying no. Rehearse with them, if need be.