What is the Momo Challenge… and why experts call it a “hoax”

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Ask most high schoolers if they've heard of the Momo Challenge, and they may tell you that they're the ones who've made it such a sensation on the internet. Many share the creepy image to each other as a joke.

"Even this morning, like four people sent it in our group chat," said Termiere Walton, a senior at Davenport Central High School. "Just playing around and stuff," he said.

But the challenge has created a panic among parents. School districts have shared warnings about the character popping up in the middle of children's shows online, telling kids to do bad things or even hurt themselves.

Youtube has addressed the video with a statement on Twitter.

"It's mostly a hoax," said family therapist Nicole Zook at the Youth Service Bureau of Rock Island. She's an expert on the way young people use social media.

"We talk a lot with students and with parents about maybe not worrying so much about that and worrying about the day to day content that students have to deal with that they don’t know how to handle. Like cyber bullying. Or inappropriate content," said Zook.

"Because those are real issues that affect everyone. Whereas this is kind of a hoax that exacerbates the problem every time it’s covered in the media," she said.

Zook said that parents should ask their kids what they're seeing online. She said that about a third of children don't get any supervision at all.

"If you don’t know, it’s always OK to ask your kid.  What is this? Tell me about this thing," Zook said. "And that helps you join with them and it helps you make sure that they’re safe."

 

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