Govt issues safety alert over Momo Challenge

Govt issues safety alert over Momo Challenge

Momo Challenge

The Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry has issued a safety alert for students and parents over the circulation of online suicide game ‘Momo Challenge’.

The game, reportedly being circulated on various social media platforms, particularly WhatsApp, consists of “a variety of self-harming dares” and finally ends with a suicide challenge.

“The game inspires teenagers/children/any other user (player) to add unknown contacts on WhatsApp by the name of Momo,” the ministry said in its advisory.

Once the contact is added, the image of “a terrifying” Japanese Momo doll with bulging eyes appears in the contact. “The game controller then entices players to perform a series of challenges. Players of the game are threatened with violent images, audios or videos if they do not follow instructions,” the ministry said.

The child welfare section of the ministry has advised parents to remain alert of their wards’ activities.

“Monitor online and social media activity of your children to ensure that they are not engaging in this (Momo) challenge. Keep your eyes open for unusually secretive behaviour, mostly related to their online activity,” the ministry advised parents.

It also suggested that the parents install “a good cyber/mobile parenting software” in the devices used by children to monitor their activities.

“Remind your child that you are there and will support them... If you fear your child may be at risk, get professional help right away,” the ministry said.

Last year, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had issued a safety alert for parents and teachers after some suicide cases in India were suspected to have links with the deadly ‘Blue Whale Challenge’. The vicious suicide game had triggered nationwide concern over children’s safety.

Advising parents and teachers to remain vigilant of youngsters’ activities in cyber space, the NCPCR had then said that those in the age group of 12-19 years were the most vulnerable on social media to fall prey to the Blue Whale Challenge.

Karnataka 14th in searches

Karnataka stands 14th in online searches for Momo Challenge, as per data available with Google Trends.

A large number of people in Bengaluru have searched for the online game. Sikkim, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Manipur are in the first five positions.

What is the Momo Challenge?

Momo Challenge is a form of cyberbullying that spreads through social media and cellphones. After phone users are enticed to contact a Momo account through WhatsApp, they receive graphic threats and are instructed to perform a series of dangerous tasks, which ends with a suicide challenge.

The user is threatened to make personal information public or inflict harm on family members unless a succession of tasks is performed. The threats and subsequent communications are often accompanied by disturbing, scary or gory pictures. The game is said to have originated in Argentina.

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