History of Dangerous Games
Several years ago, there was a trend called the Blue Whale Challenge. This so-called game would give players 50 tasks that cause the player harm. The final task ends in suicide. There have been several instances of similar games in the deep dark pits of the internet. Most of these “games” pray on younger users that are already suffering mental illnesses and encourage them to perform acts of self-harm.This new challenge has also been linked to the other online “legend” like Slenderman, which led teengars to commit suicide and attempt murder.
What is Momo?
Momo is the latest instance of these harmful games, using the image of a horror-based sculpture. The online game has spread to several social media platforms including WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube. This one pretends to know the, sometimes unwilling, players. Many times, the information Momo uses is taken from social media accounts or something similar. Some people are even considering the theory that Momo could be a hacker, or hacker group. This is one of those times that we are reminded of the importance of our privacy settings and password security.
Authorities are currently investigating after a 12-year-old girl was found dead near Buenos Aires, Argentina, after reportedly texting a figure called Momo on the WhatsApp. Further investigations examining the girl’s phone have led police to question an 18-year-old the girl allegedly met on social media.
“The phone has been hacked to find footage and WhatsApp chats, and now the alleged adolescent with whom she exchanged those messages is being sought,” police said in a statement.
They believe the teenager’s intention was to “upload the video to social media as part of a challenge, crediting the Momo game” for the suicide.
The game involves challenging people to communicate with an unknown number, an act that can be very dangerous for young adults to participate in. The unknown controller behind the account sends users violent images, followed by threats if the player refuses to follow the game’s “orders”.
The Momo profile itself features a disturbing image of a distorted young woman, with eyes bulging out, straggly black hair and bird legs. It is an actual piece of art that was created by Japanese special effects company Link Factory.
Why Would My Child Play?
This question is almost as hard to answer as why anyone would run a game like this. Momo has been known to initiate contact, but why would a child answer? More and more kids seem to believe that they can handle something like a grownup without understanding that their brains are not ready for this. From the investigations I have done into Momo and how they “play”, it seems like Momo is a mask for cyberbullies.
No matter how tech savvy, mature, and logical a child is, they are never immune to a cyberbully. Many bullies have been known to make fake accounts, and even reference horror movies such as Unfriended just to mess with their victims.
Picking up on depression or cyberbullying can be very difficult. One of the key components of both is a sense of shame that you are not “normal”, and many kids hide it from their parents because they don’t want to damage their parents’ image of them. Some things to watch for could include:
- Unusual Sleep Patterns
- Excessive Mood Swings
- Sudden Changes in Behavior
I know what you’re thinking. A lot of these are just signs of being a teenager! This is a common misconception that I have lived through myself. You see, our children all have their own normal. Maybe it is normal for your 15-year-old son to sleep until noon and be up until 4 am, but what about when his 13-year-old sister starts to copy him suddenly? If your gut says worry, then worry.
It is widely known that the suicide hotline is just one google search away at any given time. Less widely known is how to prevent the need for making that call, or worse.
Start by keeping conversation open between you and your children. Ask them about their day, every day. Jessica and Tiffany want your girl to take sides in something? Even if it seems unimportant at the time, try to keep track of the school drama. Listening is our most important weapon in protecting not only our kids, but all their friends too. Maybe something you hear could help Jessica’s parents gain insight to why she is suddenly avoiding going out.
Taking away their tech won’t prevent them from playing a dangerous game or being bullied, but what we can do is listen and be there when our kids are talking to us.