MINISTERS are “extremely concerned” about the disturbing Momo challenge game, Andrea Leadsom has said.
The Commons boss said the weird new craze, which is said to have spread on social media sites, was “appalling” but there is no current risk to British kids.
She warned that the Momo challenge, a game on social media in which players are threatened to follow ‘orders’ from a scary-looking avatar, was worrying.
Parents have told how the bizarre face pops up on videos and on social media with terrifying new threats and challenges.
Today Ms Leadsom was asked about how ministers could stop the “scourge of online dangers” by Tory MP Douglas Ross.
She told MPs: “My Honourable Friend is raising an appalling situation, the Momo challenge is something I have also heard of, is one the Government is extremely concerned about.
And she said that “more needs to be done to protect young people online, including from cyber bullying and suicide and self harm content”.
Internet companies which host such content have a “responsibility to their users”, she went on.
But she repeated the remarks of experts who said that there’s not a current threat to kids.
“In the case of Momo, organisations including Samaritans, NSPCC and Safer Internet Centre have said there is no concerned evidence that the Momo phenomenon is posing a threat to British children,” Ms Leadsom said.
FOR KIDS: How to say no
It can sometimes be hard to stand up to your friends, so Childline offers the following tips on how to say no:
1) Say it with confidence:
Be assertive. It’s your choice and you don’t have to do something which makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
2) Try not to judge them:
By respecting their choices, they should respect yours.
3) Spend time with friends who can say ‘no’:
It takes confidence and courage to say no to your friends. Spend time with other friends who also aren’t taking part.
4) Suggest something else to do:
If you don’t feel comfortable doing what your friends are doing, suggest something else to do.
Any child worried about peer pressure or online worries can contact Childline on 0800 1111.
Several internet users have reported that the character – which was created completely separately for an exhibition in Tokyo – threatens them if they don’t follow orders.
It’s even been reported to have been linked to some deaths, and has been identified all around the world.
In recent days headteachers and parents have become more concerned about the bizarre messages.
Kids have reportedly been left terrified by the images.
Northolt Community Special School in Hull, East Yorks, issued a warning to parents yesterday after pupils were reportedly targeted on YouTube.
The school said: “We are aware that some nasty challenges (Momo challenge) are hacking into children’s programmes.
“Challenges appear midway through Kids YouTube, Fortnight, Peppa pig to avoid detection by adults.
“Please be vigilant with your child using IT, images are very disturbing.”
FOR PARENTS: How to talk about peer pressure
1) Create the right situation:
Make sure you both have time to talk, the atmosphere is relaxed, and remember that this is a conversation, not an interrogation.
Avoid solely talking at them. Listen to their concerns and their experiences.
3) Acknowledge their worries:
Dismissing their feelings will only shut down the conversation and make them reluctant to talk about what’s bothering them.
4) Help them practise ways of saying no:
Rehearsing with them ways to stand up to peer pressure and coming up with alternatives for them will build their confidence.
5) Keep the conversation going:
Let them know that they can always come to you if they have more worries, and take an interest in how they get on saying “no”.
Any adult who wants advice on how to talk to their child about peer pressure can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000.
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Parents have previously told The Sun Online how the character, which was originally created by a Japanese artist with no links to the game, has appeared on their child’s YouTube videos.
One mum, from Swindon, said her six-year-old son was watching a gaming channel when the creature popped up and warned “I’m going to kill you”.
A YouTube spokesman said: “YouTube’s Community Guidelines prohibit content that’s intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm or death. We remove flagged videos that violate our policies.”
Instagram says it has now deleted three accounts involved in promoting Momo.
An Instagram spokespman said: “Nothing is more important to us than the safety of the people who use Instagram. Content or accounts that encourage others to harm themselves are not allowed and we will remove them as soon as we are made aware.
“We encourage anyone who comes across anything like this to report it and we have a team working 24/7 who prioritise reports related to self-harm.”
HOW TO HELP YOUR KIDS COPE WITH MOMO By ChannelMum.com Psychologist Emma Kenny
1) Show them the origin. The Momo is a sculpture by a Japanese artist and has nothing to do with reality.
2) The game works by ‘doxxing’ – pretending it has information on a person it will use against you if you don’t go along with what they say. Explain to your kids what doxxing is and reassure them that the game knows nothing about them.
3) Explain that no matter what the game tells them, that you will never reject them. Make sure they understand that even their most shameful secrets couldn’t alter how much they are loved.
4) Create a ‘worry time opportunity’ for them daily. Help young kids to write a worry down and pop it in a worry box. You can then chat about that worry the next day. Communication is key, so creating a daily space for this means you are on top of any issues.
5) Check their phones and gadgets. It’s your money, so it’s your right to spot check should you wish to. If you feel your child may have been contacted then it’s better to know.
6) Ask them about other kid’s behaviours. Children are often very perceptive and will pick up on peers who are struggling.
7) Load an app on their phone so that you can check their interaction, such as Custodio.
8) Tell them that predators exist, but that monsters do not. Remind them that there are bad people in the world – but not supernatural and certainly not Momo.
If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, the Samaritans can be contacted on 020 7734 2800
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