What is Momo Challenge?
How does the Momo Suicide Challenge work?
Participants are told or rather ‘challenged’ to contact Momo. The way they do that is by adding an unknown number to their contacts’. Then they begin sending messages to Momo on WhatsApp.
And so it begins. Users are hounded by frightening images and violent messages which end with Momo urging them to harm or kill themselves. A sick mind behind the Challenge floods these susceptible youngsters, mostly in their teens, with thoughts of death and dying, followed up with threats, if the ‘player’ refuses to follow the ‘orders’.
When the Buenos Aires police hacked into the girl’s phone who killed herself, they found footage and WhatsApp chats with an 18-year-old girl, who it is believed, wanted to upload the video of the suicide across social media platforms. The Momo Challenge would then be credited with the suicide.
Be that as it may, authorities frankly are pretty clueless about the motivations behind the game – is it to push someone to violence and suicide or steal information from vulnerable children? Authorities have no answers just yet, though.
What they do know is that the Momo Challenge is most popular in South America (Argentina and Mexico), but incidents have been reported in the United States, France, and Germany. However, apart from the Buenos Aires incident, there have thankfully been no fatalities. As yet.
While no incidents have been reported from Spain, authorities there are taking no chances. The Guardia Civil has already tweeted a warning against adding Momo to phone books.
Who is behind the Momo Challenge?
Though it began with WhatsApp., authorities say that the shadowy individuals behind Momo are also using other social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube.
According to a report, it is next to impossible to pin down Momo to one WhatsApp user. For instance, there are three active phone numbers in Japan, Colombia and Mexico, which are connected to the Momo Challenge. Investigators say calls to these numbers do not go through.
Investigations pending, authorities are urging parents and children alike to keep communication channels within the family open. With at least five suspected Blue Whale deaths in India and 130 deaths in Russia alone, where the game originated, it could be simply a matter of time, before Momo Challenge incidents are reported from India.
How can you combat the Momo Challenge?
- If you’re worried, let children or teenagers around you know they can always come to you, any time, no matter what.
- Since Momo and Blue Whale prey on kids with poor self-esteem, one should help these children believe in themselves, build their self-confidence and, most importantly, teach them how to say ‘no’ to peer pressure.
- Parents or guardians should look out for changes in behaviour, which could be easily missed, like keeping the door to their room shut when it’s normally always ajar, spending inordinately long hours on the phone or increasing requests for ‘me time’.
- Another crucially important clue is cuts and bruises on the body which can’t be explained.
- Other indicators of something amiss are drop in grades, poor concentration, neglecting hobbies. The child basically wants to get back to the challenge at the cost of everything else.
- When the child drops old friends for new ones, ask why. Children and young adults may make new friends, but rarely drop old ones. Outreach with teachers, the parents of your child’s friends, is important. Stay connected.
(Edvantage Point is India’s go-to platform for education-related products and services. We are into admissions management for schools, career advice and counselling services for students as well as recruitment services).