26/02/2019

PSNI Issue Statement On 'Disturbing' Social Media Challenge

The PSNI has branded the 'Momo' challenge, an online game encouraging children to self-harm, as "extremely disturbing".

Worried parents have expressed concern in recent days over the latest online threat, a game which encourages young children to communicate with a creepy female character.

Whilst no official reports have been made to the PSNI, Detectives from the Pubic Protection Branch are liaising with other UK Police services to identify the source and extent of the problem.

Detective Sergeant Elaine McCormill said: "This extremely disturbing challenge conceals itself within other harmless looking games or videos played by children and when downloaded, it asks the user to communicate with 'Momo' via popular messaging applications such as WhatsApp. It is at this point that children are threatened that they will be cursed or their family will be hurt if they do not self-harm.
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"I am disgusted that a so-called game is targeting our young children and I would encourage parents to know what your children are looking at and who they are talking to. Whilst the threat of a curse may sound silly to an adult, it could be a very frightening prospect for a young child and they may feel under pressure to carry out acts to protect themselves or family from further harm. The most fundamental piece of advice that I can offer is to speak with your children- let them know that they do not have to deal with any concerns on their own. It is crucial that parents are involved with their children's online lives and I'd urge parents to make children aware of online dangers and ensure they know that they can speak to someone if anything or anyone online causes them concern.

"I would also advise parents to ensure that any devices used by your children are restricted to age suitable content. However, I am aware of media reports that the 'Momo' challenge has popped up even when these controls are in place so there really is no substitution for supervising the games that children are playing and the videos that they watch online."

Anyone who believes their child has been a victim of the 'Momo' challenge is urged to contact police on non-emergency line 101, or via 999 in the case of an emergency so officers can examine the device and launch an investigation.



(JG/CM)

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