Say “No-no to Momo”

What is the Momo Challenge & why kids should be supervised while browsing YouTube.

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Cesar E. Gonzalez, Reporter

In the last several years, social media and the internet have become a power-house pair. Merriam-Webster defines social media as, “Forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos).”

It is a place where anyone can post their own content. It could be for educational purposes to inform, or even just for fun. However, some people put more time and attention in social media thus forming bad habits of over-posting. Which brings up the “dark side” of social media run by internet ‘trolls.’ YouTube quickly became a social media application that took to such trolling and hoaxes.

What is Momo?

One in particular known as “The Momo Challenge” was first noticed in the summer of 2018. Now it has been spotted interrupting children’s videos via YouTube/YouTube KIDS. “Momo” appears and instructs kids how to harm themselves (and others). All while posing to be in some type of sing-along video.

Its most popular appearance was in the cartoon “Peppa Pig.” This cartoon could have been duplicated and uploaded to YouTube, except with Momo edited in. A simple search for “Peppa Pig” can easily expose Momo to any child navigating YouTube.

Where did she come from?

What is Momo and where did it come from? Japanese artist, Keisuke Aisawa, created a sculpture known as “Mother Bird.” The image of Momo came from a photo of this Japanese art display, which can be seen at the Vanilla Gallery in Tokyo. However, Aisawa and his company called Link Factory, have no relations to what is going on virally.

“We want to clear something up regarding the Momo Challenge: We’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube,” YouTube tweeted. “Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies.”

“YouTube is supposed to have some kind of algorithm to detect stuff like this”, Twitter user @2ndJoKage stated, “But obviously with millions of videos uploaded all the time, I can imagine you have these instances where things seep through the cracks.”

What to look for and parent’s concern

What is even more troubling is that YouTube has voiced that there has been no recent activity about Momo. Worried parents like Kim Kardashian have reached out to YouTube with concerns about Momo. One father, Chris Villegas, had spoken to his daughter about Momo and the challenge. “I just spoke to her in regard to how there are certain things online that aren’t what she thinks,” Villegas stated, “That there are people who are out there that aren’t having her at her best interest.”

Talking to your child and explaining what’s going on really helps. “I told her that we love her and want her to be safe,” Villegas said, “I asked her if she understood it was a fake thing that someone made up which she understood.”

Other reports have mentioned that WhatsApp messenger also plays a role in the Momo challenge. And since WhatsApp messenger is completely anonymous, just about anyone with a smartphone can trigger this “hoax” into action. This video content is easy to block through YouTube’s settings. Yet parents are concerned that Momo is popping up in videos for kids.

So how can we control the threat? Monitoring what your children are watching is one way to keep them away from such horrors as Momo. Another could easily be to take the smartphone away from them and encourage them to play outside. Growing up my generation never had to deal with these types of problems. Nowadays cyber-bullying and social media monsters like Momo have erupted left and right. No evidence has shown that any children in the U.S. have participated in the challenge.

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