Expert Advice

The Momo Challenge: Why parents need to know about this dangerous online game

The challenge is trending for all the wrong reasons.

By Alex Lilly
Trigger warning: This post deals with suicide.
It's the creepy face that is popping up all over the Internet, but you may not know the details of the viral Momo Challenge.
Celebrities including Kim Kardashian and pop star Kehlani have spoken out about the dangerous meme, but why? We have the lowdown here.
Have you seen this face popping up online? (Image: Facebook)
The Momo Challenge started thanks to a Japanese-manufactured statue called Mother Bird in 2016. With its long hair, wide eyes and creepy smile, the face of this statue became an online meme known as Momo.
The idea behind the Momo Challenge is that if you are sent the Momo image, you must do whatever Momo/the person sending the image says. The 'doll' encourages them to add a contact on WhatsApp and hound them with dares and violent images, some as extreme as harming themselves.
People sent this image are meant to do as they are told otherwise Momo will supposedly curse them and their family. According to urban legend, the process ends by killing yourself and filming it.
The viral Momo Challenge that first surfaced in 2018, was first unveiled after a 12-year-old Argentinian girl's suicide, though the link has not been confirmed by authorities.
Police in the UK have issued a warning to parents, but told them that it's not the only viral trend to be on the lookout for.
"Don't focus only on Momo, but make sure you know what your child has online access to. More important is that your child knows not to give out personal info to ANYONE they don't know, that no one has the right to tell them to, or make them do ANYTHING they don't want to," the Police Service of Northern Ireland wrote on their Facebook page.
"When it comes to devices, all phones have parental controls, and various things can be put in place via the network provider. If in doubt, ask. If there's parents out there who have found methods that work, discuss it here for everyone's benefit."
Kim Kardashian used her influence to spread word of the dangerous Momo Challenge. (Image: Getty Images)
Mother-of-three Kim Kardashian even took to her Instagram stories and shared two posts from other users warning against the dangerous challenge making the rounds on social media, even asking YouTube to 'Please help!'.
"Parents please be aware and very cautious of what your child watches on YouTube and KIDS YOUTUBE. There is a thing called 'Momo' that's instructing kids to kill themselves, turn stoves on while everyone is sleep and even threatening to kill the children if they tell their parents," read one post shared by the reality star.
And thanks to her enormous following and influence, YouTube responded.
YouTube are working to fight the Momo Challenge popping up on their service thanks to Kim Kardashian. (Image: Instagram @kimkardashian)
Unfortunately, trends like the Momo Challenge aren't a new occurrence in the digital sphere, but parents can do something about it.
  • Know what your children can access online
  • Tell your children to not give personal information to strangers and why
  • Let your children know that no-one can force them to do anything
  • Use parental controls
If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.