Online Safety Alert: Risky Social-Media Challenges

Educate yourself about an online challenge game that can have deadly results for kids.

By Barb Szyszkiewicz

Challenges aren’t always a good thing. There’s a new social-media game that’s encouraging kids and teens to engage in increasingly risky behavior. What should teachers and parents know about this?

The Momo Challenge targets kids through social media, specifically Facebook and WhatsApp. The game involves challenging kids to take part in challenging activities with increasing risk levels over the course of 50 days. Once kids or teens initiate contact with the Momo account, it communicates with them to require photo or video proof of sometimes violent acts, and threatens to kill them if they don’t comply.

The game has been linked to deaths of kids and teens in Europe and South America.

Schools are beginning to warn parents about the Momo Challenge, but teachers need to be aware of it as well.

Are your students talking about the Momo Challenge? If so, here are some things teachers can do:

  • Reassure students that Momo is not real and cannot harm them
  • Encourage students not to sign up for this challenge or to block the account from further communications if they are already signed up
  • Remind students never to communicate online with people they don’t know
  • Pay attention to the websites your students are visiting on school computers
  • Reiterate the importance of frequent password changes
  • If a student’s behavior or conversations indicate a risk for suicide or self-harm, alert your school nurse, school counselor, and the student’s parents or guardians

Read more:

The National Association of School Psychologists’ tips for parents and educators

The Shrink in the Classroom: The Suicidal Student

TCT: Grief at School

TCT: Safety in our Classrooms

This news video from August 2018 goes into detail about the Momo Challenge and its effect on children:

Barb Szyszkiewicz is editor at and managing editor of Today’s Catholic Teacher.

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