Dear Lexington Two Families,
A three-year-old internet and social media controversy called the Momo Challenge recently resurfaced. If you’re not familiar with it, the Momo Challenge uses a Japanese special effects art piece to scare children and encourage them to commit dangerous acts, to themselves or to others, and then upload the proof on social media.
Momo has been found on platforms such as YouTube, YouTube Kids, Facebook, WhatsApp and others. Some video and gaming applications, including MInecraft and Fortnite, also have been hacked. Children could be watching a video online and, in the middle of it, see the inserted, inappropriate video encouraging harmful acts.
While authorities believe Momo is a hoax, reports in local and national media, as well as the spreading of information on social media, have understandably alarmed many parents.
While Lexington Two has filters on the district network, students still may be able to access such sites through their personal devices and accounts if they are not on a district network.
The Momo Challenge is just the latest among dangerous “challenges” on various social media platforms that could have negative effects on children and their social interactions.
This serves as another reminder of the importance of monitoring your child’s social media and the internet use regularly. Here are some tips from the US Department of Homeland Security for keeping your child safe online:
Keep lines of communication open: Let your children know they can approach you with any questions or concerns about behaviors encountered online.
Set rules and warn about dangers: Make sure children know the boundaries of what they are allowed to do on the computer. These boundaries should be appropriate for age, knowledge and maturity, as well as what sites they are allowed to visit and what information they can share.
Monitor computer activity: Be aware of what your child is doing on the computer, including which websites they are visiting. If they are using email, instant messaging or chat rooms, try to get a sense of who they are corresponding with and whether they actually know them.
Here are two sites with additional information to address the Momo issue with your child:
National Online Safety: What Parents Need to Know about Momo, https://nationalonlinesafety.com/resources/platform-guides/momo-online-safety-guide-for-parents/
Forbes: Don’t Panic: What Parents Really Need to Know About "Momo Challenge," https://www.forbes.com/sites/andyrobertson/2019/02/27/dont-panic-what-parents-really-need-to-know-about-momo-challenge/#6dd85df3a4be
For more on internet safety, visit https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips/ST05-002.