momo challenge

A screenshot of the avatar used to promote the Momo Challenge (screenshot)

Trendy And Terrifying: Parents Warned Of 'Momo Challenge' Linked To Suicide

August 09, 2018 - 5:34 pm

(WWJ) Authorities around the world are warning parents about a menacing viral game that may encourage children and teens to harm themselves.

"The Momo Challenge" -- which is delivered to young people's phones or devices through popular messaging app "Whatsapp" -- is reportedly being played in the U.S. Mexico, Argentina, France and Germany

Promoted with a distorted and terrifying avatar (seen above), the game urges players to communicate with an unknown user, then setting up personal challenges and eventually harassing players, making violent suggestions and demanding they harm themselves, or end their lives, while threatening them if they don't comply. 

While metro Detroit law enforcement has not reported any local incidents link to Momo, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said his department has seen dangerous trends like this work their way into citizens' homes via the internet. 

"And it's not uncommon to have social media or other kinds of today's technologies utilized to exploit people and encourage them to put themselves into a bad situation," he told WWJ Newsradio 950's Sandra McNeill, adding that he and his department are always keeping an eye on these trends, so they can make the community aware of them.

While it's unclear at this time exactly how widespread the Momo game has become, authorities believe it's likely a form of bait used by criminals to steal data and extort people online.

Bouchard said, whether it's Momo, the Tide Pod Challenge or any other trend that encourages you to take a risk or harm yourself, do not respond to it. 

Parents, he said, need to be proactive, making sure their children are supervised while using the internet and always being aware of what their kids are doing, and who they're communicating with, online.

"I always encourage parents to do what they feel comfortable doing, but remember they're a parent first, and they have control over, not only the purse strings, but the behavior of the child to keep them safe and to guide them," the sheriff said. "So sometimes you do things that are intrusive on the child's personal space -- quote, unquote -- but that's part of your job as a parent."

So far Momo has been blamed for at least one death in Argentina. The Buenos Aires Times reported late last month that a 12-year-old girl hanged herself from a tree in her family's backyard, allegedly after playing the game. No arrests have been made in the case.

According to reports, a sculpture that inspired the avatar used for the Momo challenge was created by a Japanese artist who has no conenction to the game.