Momo challenge: Union ministry issues advisory for parents to safeguard children

The Momo game refers to an online challenge for which an avatar of a grotesque woman is being used. Pay close attention to your kid’s behaviour and have open communication with them. The Ministry of Electronics and IT has issues this advisory to caution parents from this game which encourages suicide

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After the killer blue whale challenge, the teens, across the world, are falling prey to deadly ‘MOMO’ challenge.
Like the blue whale challenge, ‘MOMO’ challenge also includes a series of tasks, and the last task to perform is to commit suicide.

‘The Momo Challenge’ started on Facebook where members were ‘challenged’ to communicate with unknown numbers. It went viral on social media platforms, especially WhatsApp.

The Momo Challenge consists of a variety of self-harming dares which becomes increasingly risky as the game progresses and it finally ends with suicide challenge. The game involves challenges that encourage teenagers/ children/any other user to engage in series of violent acts as challenges of the game.

The game inspires teenagers/ children / any other user (the player), to add unknown contacts on WhatsApp by the name of ‘Momo’. Once the contact is added, the image of the terrifying Japanese ‘Momo’ doll with bulging eyes appears in contact.

The game controller than entices player to perform a series of challenges and playing the game are threatened with violent images, audios or videos, if player do not follow instructions.

Dr Sagar Karia, a psychiatrist at Mumbai’s civic-run Sion Hospital, said, “The government should ban this game. It is instigating the teens to commit suicide. Parents should keep a watch on their kids. The Nagpur police have started spreading awareness about this game, and it is a welcome step.”

Dr Karia added, “Mobile addiction is becoming a serious issue. Parents should speak to their children and explain to them about the ill effects of mobile and online gaming.”

Look out for following signs and symptoms:

  • Becoming withdrawn from friends and family.
  • Persistent low mood and unhappiness.
  • Looking worried that stops him/her from carrying out day to day tasks.
  • Sudden outbursts of anger directed at themselves or others.
  • Loss of interest in activities that they used to enjoy.
  • Visible marks like deep cuts or wounds on any part of the body of the child.

How to protect your child from this game:

Check in with your child, ask how things are going. Ask if there have been things stressing them, or anything that has them worried. If your child is talking about any level of distress, do not hesitate to ask them about changes in mental health.

Unless there is reason to believe your child already knows of or has played the game, don’t discuss about the Blue Whale game. By doing so, you increase the chance that your child will search for it on their own.

Monitor your children’s online & social media activity to ensure they are not engaging with this game.

Keep your eyes open for:

  • Unusually secretive behaviour, mostly related to their online activity.
  • A sudden increase in the time they spend online, especially social media.
  • They seem to change screens on their device when approached.
  • They become withdrawn or angry, after using the internet or sending text messages.
  • Their device suddenly has many new phone numbers and e-mail contacts.
  • Install a good cyber/mobile parenting software which helps them in monitoring your children.
  • Parents should take reports from child counsellor present in the school at regular intervals.
  • If you fear your child may be at risk, get professional help right away.
  • Remind your child that you are there and will support them as they face life challenges.