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Momo Challenge: Game of Death

Michele du Plessis

The Momo Challenge has been described as a devious, deadly game targeting youngsters all around the world. It has been blamed for the deaths of a number of young people committing suicide. Reportedly, the Momo Challenge is spread by random, twisted internet users.

Police have issued warnings about the Momo Challenge.

One mum said her six-year-old son had even been told to put a knife to his neck in one of the sick challenges, while another child was warned “I’m going to kill you” while watching a kids’ gaming channel. {In one YouTube video that I watched, Momo tells the child to get a sharp “toy” such as a knife and to slit their wrist. It shows the child exactly where to cut and said even if it hurts, they mustn’t stop until a lot of the “red stuff” comes out. Momo also threatened to kill them if they did not do what she tells them to do. Quite frankly, it was very upsetting and quite sickening to watch this video.}

Momo, created by a Japanese artist named Keisuke Aiso, was initially shown at the 2016 Tokyo art show and originally named Mother Bird.  Although the reason for the hideous sculpture’s creation was to frighten people, he never intended for it to become a worldwide internet scare and causing any harm to kids.

The Momo challenge first appeared in the media outlet last year, claiming a number of young lives worldwide. The scare of the creepy-looking doll appeared online again when it reportedly prompted midway through Kids YouTube, Fortnight and Peppa Pig, raising concerns all over social media.

The South African Film and Publication Board (FPB) issued a warning in February 2019 that urges parents to be vigilant and closely monitor their children’s online activities, especially games downloaded on various App stores or from other online sources.  “It has come to our attention that the game, “Momo Challenge” is a form of cyberbullying targeting young children. It encourages self-harm and may even lead to suicide,” the press release stated.

“The “Momo Challenge” appears as a scary image on online platforms with requests for the user to contact “Momo” on WhatsApp through one of several contact numbers.  Reports claim that the character instructs children to complete challenges that they must keep secret or “Momo” will kill them.”

FPB’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, Dr Maria Motebang said, “Our FPB online monitors conducted a search on legitimate and known App stores and were unable to find reference to the game.  However, there is a possibility that the game may be shared on a peer-to-peer basis. Parents and guardians are therefore urged to monitor their children’s devices and report such content on the FPB hotline number 0800 148 148 or www.fpbhotline.org.za”.

“We urge parents to ensure that they adhere to age restrictions as assigned by the FPB.  Age-appropriate content goes a long way towards protecting your young ones from premature exposure to content that causes them psychological and developmental harm,” Dr Motebang adds.

(Even if this is a hoax and media hype is exaggerating the facts to sensationalize the Momo Challenge and is spreading panic, parents need to monitor their children’s devices. Rather safe than sorry.)

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