Bizarre Internet Trend Gets Attention

Social media trends have long since been a thing of chaotic energy and odd dares, but one recent trend posed a direct threat to children. The “Momo Challenge” is an online video of a puppet with malicious intentions.

The videos of the puppet are inserted onto platforms that younger children visit such as Facebook, Youtube, and even some Peppa Pig episodes. The puppet encourages viewers to contact them via a Whatsapp number and then proceeds to tell them to complete different tasks. At first the tasks may be harmless but eventually lead to something deadly. There are videos of Momo’s voice singing a lullaby detailing her killing the viewer in their sleep. Momo also threatens viewers if they do not do what it asks and tells them to keep their presence a secret. The videos started in Spanish-speaking countries, but eventually made their way to English speaking parts of the world as Youtuber ReignBot made a video talking about the puppet in July, 2018.

Claim that a 12 year old girl in Buenos Aires took her own life because of the video are unsubstantiated but part of the creepy Momo myth. The deaths of a 16 year old boy and 12 year old girl were also linked to the challenge, as police found messages related to Momo on their phones. Other stories tell of school children being afraid to go to bathrooms alone and having nightmares. None of these incidents have been confirmed.

Schools and police have advised parents to monitor their children’s social media, especially if their kids have Whatsapp. However, the challenge itself seems to pose very little real threat to children and exists more as a legend of how insidious and dangerous the internet can be for children. 

Momo herself was a sculpture made in 2016 with an elongated face with stringy hair and big eyes. The sculpture known as “Mother Bird,” was part of an art installation in Japan. After the creator, 43 year old Keisuke Aiso, and staff of the art gallery received death threats the sculpture was taken apart and thrown away.

As technology becomes more complex and new social media trends pop up, more trends such as the “Momo Challenge” are likely to arise. In order to protect ourselves as well as the children viewing these trends, close monitoring on the part of parents as well as identifying misinformation will have to become a norm.  Being aware of such trends and their potential dangers is an important part of combating them.