Island parents warned about suicide-influencing game

Schools on the Isle of Wight are sending out emails to parents today, warning them about the ‘MOMO challenge’ that has been linked to a number of deaths across the world.

Cowes Enterprise College sent out emails and text messages this morning warning parents to keep an eye on their children’s mobile devices.

In a letter seen by the Observer it reads: “Dear parents and Carers, As part of our commitment to working in partnership with parents on the advice of Hampshire Constabulary, I would like to make you aware of an internet ‘suicide-influencing game’ which has come come to our attention called The MOMO Challenge. The MOMO challenge encourages children to harm themselves and is reported to be linked to several deaths around the world and is now appearing across the UK.

“Hampshire constabulary are advising professionals, parents and carers, given the horrendous nature of the MOMO challenge, to seriously consider any decision to raise awareness of it to children and young people as a means to safeguard them, unless necessary; as we know, with all good intentions, drawing attention to it may result in them gravitating towards it.”

Mirroring the ‘Blue Whale’ suicide game of 2017, The MOMO Challenge is targeted at children and young people through social media by people presenting as MOMO, a terrifying looking sculpture.

Children are unexpectedly being exposed to disturbing images and requests to contact MOMO having been spliced into children’s videos on YouTube and KidsTube.

The freaky sculpture encourages youths to add an unknown contact on the Whatsapp messenger service. Once contact is made, children are subsequently bombarded with terrifying images and messages reportedly ranging from threats and dares which encourage them to self harm and even commit suicide.

So far, a 12-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy, both from Colombia, are thought to have killed themselves after taking part in the sick challenge. After police seized their phones, they said they found messages linked to the games.

It’s understood the original artwork used was taken from a designer in Japan who has no connection what the online game.

A spokesperson for the NSPCC said” The constant evolving digital world means a steady influx of new apps and games and can be hard for parents to keep track of.

“That’s why it’s important for parents to talk regularly with children about these apps and games and the potential risk they can be exposed to.

“The NSPCC publishes advice and guidance for parents on discussing overall online safety with their children, as well as promoting Net Aware – the UK’s only parental guide to social media and gaming apps.”

Parents are also being advised to monitor or pre-watch all videos their children are watching and accessing.