A momo that’s not worth digging into

Experts ask parents to keep communication channels open and establish a good rapport with their children. The Momo Challenge eventually calls for a player’s death.

It’s barely a year since the Blue Whale Challenge and yet another scary challenge is here to haunt. The Momo Challenge is another series of dangerous tasks that aims to scare many online.

The Momo Challenge reportedly started on Facebook where members were challenged to communicate with an unknown number. Once such a communication is established, the Momo account sends a number of challenges and activities to the player that has to be completed to meet Momo. The grotesque image of a doll with scary features, large eyes and a wide mouth is associated with Momo, which was probably created to induce curiosity among children.

Thankfully, T Suneel Kumar, commissioner, Bengaluru City Police says that there have been no cases in Bengaluru yet. 

He says, “We have been using our social media platforms and handles to alert Bengalureans to not try such dangerous games. We have also requested citizens to be careful while downloading things from the internet. Parents have been requested to keep a watch on their wards and be on alert mode.” 

Parents in the city are at their alert best. K Vishranthi, school counsellor and mother to 11-year-old Tejaswini, has been monitoring her daughter’s screentime carefully, after the Blue Whale Challenge. 

“It is just sad that such challenges are taking over the internet. The scary part is that the name of the challenge is cute and alluring that even adults would feel like exploring it,” she adds.

It can be really hard to make a child or a pre-teenager understand about the wrongs and don’t do’s of the internet.

“Schools should conduct awareness campaigns or workshops and remind children about not indulging in dangerous games or challenges. Maintaining a strong bond between the child and parents is a must. It is important to keep a check on changes in behavioural patterns,” says Vishranthi.

Psychiatrists suggest that children who feel left out often retort to such games.

Dr Pallavi Joshi, consultant psychiatrist, Columbia Asia Hospital, says, “Teenage is the age of curiosity and exploration. Most adolescents are rebellious by nature and they want to try something new always. Earlier, such energy would be channelled into outdoor games but now even parents prefer just thrusting a mobile phone into their wards’ hands. They feel that they can keep a watch on the children as they are under your watch.”   

Peer pressure and the need to stand out among one’s friends is another reason. 

“One attempts such games out of curiosity and then the rewards or appreciative words keep the child addicted to it. Anything that is mentally stimulating and makes them feel motivated leads them on. Teenagers have conventional morality and are not able to understand what is right for them,” says Dr Pallavi.

“Parents know about self-control and cannot blame screentime for mishaps. It is essential for parents to keep communication channels open. Establish a good rapport during dinner time and otherwise, so that children know that they can tell their parents about anything,” she adds.

“Children who study alone and do not receive attention from their parents regularly, easily fall prey to such challenges.” 

— Dr Sonali Sarnobat, founder of Niyathi Foundation

Keep Momo at bay

Encourage children to talk to parents about anything, even if the day’s activities were silly.  

Children mimic adults. To make them understand about the limited use of gadgets, parents need to cut down on gadget and internet usage too. 

Activities like gardening and watching educative and informative shows, instead of aggressive programmes should be encouraged among children.

One reportedly dead in Ajmer

The online game seems to have claimed the life of a class 10 student, who committed suicide by hanging herself at her home in Ajmer.  Investigations to ascertain the cause of death is going on. 

No to Momo!

An NGO, Niyathi Foundation of Belagavi, will be creating a micro-film against the Momo challenge, which will be floated in five days. 

Dr Sonali Sarnobat, founder of Niyathi Foundation says, “Rather than conducting programmes, we have taken up initiatives through an online awareness campaign where we will be posting against the Momo Challenge. We are working on a 5-minute-movie which will primarily alert people against falling prey to the game. It will also tell children how they should approach their parents if they do get involved in the game, even by chance. We will be posting the promo of the movie on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages and the film will be released on YouTube.”   

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A momo that’s not worth digging into

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