BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Police are warning parents of a game called, “The Momo Challenge,” that could direct kids to harm themselves.
The so-called “Momo Challenge” is a game where the controller encourages kids to harm themselves after sending a series of violent messages through social media apps. If the kids don’t comply, they are threatened.
The challenge is to meet a stranger named “Momo” through a variety of social media apps like Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube.
Momo encourages kids to participate in a series of violent tasks like self-harm or suicide and post proof of it online to avoid getting cursed.
“I think it’s sickening,” Kayleigh Drengwitz, a local parent, said. “I don’t even understand why people would target kids like that.”
Momo uses a picture of a woman with bulging eyes and jet black hair and can target kids through Peppa Pig or Fortnite when parents aren’t around.
The game first surfaced in the summer of 2018 and is reportedly linked to suicides in other countries.
Police and schools are now issuing warnings to parents after the game resurfaced in the U.K. and is now making its way to the U.S.
“It’s sick that somebody would think to do something like this to kids,” Lucy Riely, a local parent, said. “Kids trust grownups and some sick grownup thought to put a child’s voice to this terrible thing.”
WhatsApp officials told CBS users can block numbers and report violent messages.
YouTube said that it can quickly remove the dangerous content from its website once it is flagged.
“We have programs that can block certain sights,” Gary Buclous, of Infoworks Technology, said. “Facebook has parental controls, we know that. Are they 100 percent proof? Absolutely not.”
Although some are reporting the momo challenge is a hoax, parents like Lauren Marriner believe that it is up to them to watch what their kids are doing online.
“Monitor your kids technology usage,” she said. “Don’t trust what they’re saying is exactly what they’re doing. You have to get in their phones, get in their apps.”
Officials have also told parents to make sure to have the proper software updates and virus protection on computers to block spyware from getting personal information.