What Parents Need to Know about the Momo Challenge and Other Dangerous Online Trends
- Heather Riggleman Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2019 1 Mar
Games have come a long way since the old-fashioned days of Truth or Dare. In fact, games in the digital age have become deadly. Ranging from snorting cinnamon, to ingesting Tide Pods, to the most recent deadly game known as the Momo Challenge. The latest worldwide craze is reaching victims as young as 8 years old. This week many parents are learning about it for the first time despite reports circulating in the summer of 2018. This is due to the game’s threats to the user if they tell their parents about it.
The Momo Challenge is a form of cyberbullying that spreads through social media and a cell phone. However, it has been infiltrating innocent cartoons like Peppa Pig, Kids YouTube, and games like Fortnite. Children are enticed to send texts to a number through the social media app called WhatsApp. The game’s mascot, a scary-looking black haired, bug eyed girl then instructs them to perform a series of dangerous tasks. If children refuse to follow directions of the disturbing Momo character, they are threatened with acts of violence or death such as being killed in their sleep or threats of harm to their family if they don’t obey. The character was created by Link Factory, a special effects firm from Japan. They however claim to have nothing to do with the suicide challenge.
The game has been linked to 130 deaths in Russia alone. Other countries where the game has been reported in the last year includes the United States, Columbia, Scotland, India, Pakistan, Mexico, France, Germany, and Canada. The challenge is also linked to the death of a 12-year-old girl in Argentina who was brainwashed to sacrifice herself for her brother and to the death of a 13-year-old boy in Belgium who hanged himself.
Parenting experts and authorities are encouraging parents to talk to their kids and reinforce that they have the power to say “no” to the pressures or threats of the game. Law enforcement states parents need to focus on the bigger picture; hackers may be running the app pressuring children and teens to give out personal information. The other issue to be aware of is the app hacking into children’s programs such as Kids YouTube, Peppa Pig, or games like Fortnite. The challenge appears midway in the show in order to avoid detection by adults.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to talk to your kids about the Momo Challenge. It’s important for parents to talk regularly with their children about theses apps and games, regardless of whether or not they have a phone. Chances are they have heard about the challenge at school. Parents should also learn texting acronyms and download software that can track kids’ online activities like Open DNS, Safety Web, or Net Nanny.
Other Deadly Games
The Blue Whale Challenge
The dare-based game pushes its users to commit suicide as the ultimate and final act. The game runs across platforms such as Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Yahoo. The lethal game has claimed over 130 deaths world wide. Spread over 50 days, the challenge instructs teens to complete 50 tasks that include self-harm and body mutilation. One of the challenges includes carving a blue whale into their skin with a knife.
Users prove they have completed the challenge by sending proof—pictures and videos to the “whale,” which is the person instructing them throughout the entire challenge. The origin of the game reportedly started in Russia and has gone viral worldwide.
The 48 Hour Challenge
The 48 hour challenge is currently making headlines as authorities warn families about its dangers. Gaining traction on social media, the challenge encourages teens to disappear for up to two days and awards points to every social media mention they receive during that time. The game is similar to the Game of 72, a United Kingdom game which encourages teens to hide from their parents for long periods of time. Points are also awarded for “likes” or mentions on social media. When a teen disappears, they could put themselves in the direct path of a predator or get injured.
However, there are no current documented instances so far in the United States. According to fact checking site, Snopes.com, the game is a hoax but continues to resurface and trend.
Trunking or Car Surfing
Many states prohibit new drivers from having passengers. In order to get around this law, teens ride around in the trunk of vehicles. Some teens do this when there isn’t enough room in the car or just for fun. This can be dangerous for obvious reasons like in the event of a car accident. The riders in the trunk can be injured or killed.
Car surfing is exactly what it sounds like. The craze is yet another internet challenge where a passenger “surfs” on the roof, bumper, or hood of a vehicle. It has taken multiple teens’ lives. The latest victim in car surfing was 15-year-old Ryan Mullen. He died from succumbing to a head injury after car surfing on an Uber ride. The Uber driver allowed Ryan and another passenger to ride on the roof and the entire event was posted to Snapchat.
Unlike other challenges sweeping the internet, teens have been doing both variations of the condom challenge for years. The first challenge encourages the participant to unroll a condom and stuff it up one side of the nose while plugging the other nostril, inhaling until the long piece of latex slides into your throat. Then you pull it out of your mouth. There have been deaths from the challenge due to the participants choking to death. Aside from choking to death, a teen could discover that he or she has an allergy to latex or chemicals in the condom. Another concern is if the condom is ingested, it could cause a gastrointestinal blockage which could result in emergency surgery.
The second variation consists of dropping a condom full of water over someone’s head. The condom inverts, saving the water inside and the participant looks like his or her head is inside a fishbowl. The participate could drown or suffocate to death.
The Eraser Challenge
The eraser challenge is gaining traction not only among teens, but children worldwide. In disturbing photos on social media, students are erasing the skin off their arms or other body parts. The game consists of rubbing your skin with an eraser as hard as you can while reciting a phrase or the alphabet while recording the event. Participants then compare wounds. Injuries have ranged from minor abrasions to serious burns and infections that require antibiotics.
Salt and Ice Challenge
Parents should be wary of the salt and ice challenge. These seemingly harmless household items are actually dangerous. To complete the challenge, the participant must pour salt in their hand, add ice cubes and see how long they can hold the salt and ice together. Whoever can endure the most pain for the longest amount of time wins.
Teens and children are giving themselves second and third degree burns. The mixture of body heat, salt, water, and ice creates a chemical reaction that drops the temperature of the ice down to -18 degrees Fahrenheit. A burn can result after two minutes. If the burn is severe enough, it can result surgery for a skin graph. This can result in permanent nerve damage or scarring of the skin.
Banana Sprite Challenge
This challenge was a trend in 2012 and is surfacing again among middle school and high school-aged kids. The challenge is to eat two bananas and then consume one liter of Sprite without vomiting. The premise is that the vomit is thought to be a chain reaction between the two. However, authorities say the vomiting is actually due to ingesting too much liquid and food at the same time. The stomach can hold around two cups of food.
Heather Riggleman calls Nebraska home (Hey, it’s not for everyone). She writes to bring bold truths through raw faith from marriage, career, mental health, faith and relationships, to celebration and heartache. Heather is a former national award-winning journalist and is the author of Mama Needs a Time Out and Let’s Talk About Prayer. Her work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, The Today Parenting Team Blog, For Every Mom, MOPS, Today's Christian Woman and Focus On the Family. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com.
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