Momo Challenge Urges Kids to Harm Themselves, As Though 2019 Weren't Already the Worst

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The Momo Challenge is here, and it makes the Tide Pod challenge look like a parent's dream.

A horrifying image appears in children's videos and on their messaging apps, instructing them to harm themselves and others or even to commit suicide.

And the worst thing is that it's been going on for much longer than anyone realized.

Momo by Midori Hayashi, a Japanese Doll Artist

Our nightmares have a new face.

Reports have been circulating about a "challenge" appearing on WhatsApp and YouTube and targeted at young children.

Children will watch a YouTube video that appears to be a children's television program and they will see Momo during a jarring intermission.

Alternatively, they will simply seek out Momo on a messaging app like WhatsApp.

A scary face frightening children is only the beginning, however.

Momo typing

"Momo" then challenges children, sometimes in stages.

Ultimately, this challenge -- like some other disturbing pranks played on children -- can cause them to harm themselves.

Some of these messages include instructions on how to commit suicide.

Others are even more insidiious.

One of the reports circulating on social media said that children were instructed by "Momo" to turn on a gas stove while everyone is asleep.

That report was not confirmed, but sends chills down people's spines.

Momo on The Skorys channel

The first reports of this challenge arose in the summer of 2018.

So why haven't children been raising the alarm? Why are most people only hearing about it now?

For one thing, the children who are targeted are the youngest demographics, usually with ages in the single digits.

But most significantly, some of the Momo material threatens to hurt or kill the parents of children who tell.

Since this story began circulating, we've also seen stories of parents asking their children about it, only to have the children burst into tears of fear and relief.

Little kids rarely have the life experience or perspective to understand when a threat is or is not plausible.

Momo police warning

There is no doubt that the Momo Challenge has scared the pants off of plenty of people, including young children and concerned parents.

There is, however, good news.

As multiple outlets have reported after taking a good, hard look at the story, there's less danger than there appears.

While a small number of international deaths have been "linked to" Momo, there is no proof that they died because of the challenge.

In fact, Forbes reports that this story has spread out of proportion among worried parents, not unlike past viral pranks.

Tide Pod 1

It's not that no one ever ate Tide Pods or that no teen has ever ingested hand sanitizer in an effort to get drunk.

It's just that people perceive it as having happened much more than it actually did.

Parenting experts recommend that parents use this as an opportunity to talk to their children about dangers on the internet.

This includes strangers, pranks, and the "challenge culture" that infests parts of social media.

It's also a good idea for parents to reconsider giving very young children unfiltered access to YouTube.

We would make a radical suggestion that parents spend time around their wee ones so that they can always see or at least hear what they're watching.

You know what's really sad?

The face seen as "Momo" is originally a sculpture by an artist named Midori Hayashi. It's a fine piece, and was never meant to be used like this.

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