February 27, 2019 – Many principals, teachers, parents and students are aware of the latest challenge circulating on social media – the 'Momo Challenge'. This story has actually been in the media for some time (Gatineau police, experts warn about 'Momo Challenge', CBC News, August 20, 2018), but it has recently gained new attention due to shares on Facebook.
Rather than sharing news stories that will only increase the viral nature of the 'Momo Challenge' and spark curiosity in children and youth, PWPSD will be running a Facebook campaign tomorrow, Thursday, February 28. The campaign will offer resources on recommended screen time for children, supervised screen time for young children, and the importance of modeling good digital behavior to children and youth. With today's social media feeds being filled with Pink Shirt Day posts, the information may be lost if we share it today.
What should you do?
- In classrooms and at home, the message to children and youth should focus on the importance of never talking to or taking advice from a stranger, whether a real person, virtual "person", or cartoon character. Also, please stress that any "curses" of harm to family members uttered by these characters hold no power.
- Remind children and youth that the most important thing they can do to keep themselves and their family members safe is to immediately tell a trusted adult when someone – human or virtual – tells them to do something harmful or criminal.
- Please stop sharing the story on social media. As cybersecurity expert Antoine Normand advises in the CBC story link above, "The more it becomes viral, the more people [there will be] who create accounts and who claim to be Momo."
- If a person is currently in communication with a Momo account or similar 'challenge' account, the cybersecurity expert in the CBC story recommends that users block the number immediately and to do a complete reset of the device.