What is MOMO and why should you care?
If you are parent this week than chances are the topic of MOMO has caught your attention. MOMO new coverage has gone viral and parents are scared! MOMO is a the name being used for what is actually a sculpture made by a Japanese special effects company called Link Factory. It is currently on exhibit in a horror gallery in Tokyo and it is called Mother Bird. There is no connection between those who made and those who are running this MOMO Challenge.
All sorts of horrible things are being attributed to the MOMO Challenge. In short what is being reported is that MOMO shows up in the middle of kids youtube videos and right away tells the kids if they tell any adult about MOMO that they will be stabbed in their sleep. Then the challenges begin, easy at first and then hard and hard to culminate in self harm and could mean death. Youtube is not the only outlet for MOMO though it is being said other social media is sharing it. People are posting that hundreds of kids are dying around the world because of MOMO… Only I can’t find proof of one. Every single time I saw a report it was parents screaming online “THIS IS WHY KIDS SHOULD NEVER BE ON YOUTUBE!” Parents that allow youtube are being shamed. Some parents are just passing on the reports they see from others because this scares us all of course!
I am not a helicopter parent but….
I know in the homeschool community there are a lot of helicopter parents and parents that are very strict when it comes to the internet and screens. You can imagine I saw near a hundred posts in a single day about MOMO. It sounded like fear mongering. So I looked into it, and as of today I still can’t find any actual deaths linked to MOMO.
As a parent who allows YouTube and tried to enable my children’s curiosity and interest and a geek who learns so much from YouTube, I felt a bit protective of my choice to allow it. Surely if my brilliant darling little minions had seen this, they would tell me. So after looking up if kids are actually being hurt, I tried to put it out of my mind and shrugged it off.
I was wrong about MOMO not being something to worry about.
I mistakenly thought the warnings about MOMO were some how just the run of the mill crap stuck in some of the youtube videos, something rare being blown out of proportion. I didn’t doubt someone would put scary stuff out there but was it a danger? I couldn’t possibly be something my kids have seen right?
But the next day, after being up with my 11 year old who had a nightmare, some part of me wondered all of a sudden, could it be she saw it. I talked to my husband about our choices when it comes to youtube and the kids and he thought he should brief the kids again on internet safety. Being in the military and given what he does, this is really something he tends to be on top of. He still felt comfortable with them having access to youtube.
Admitting as a parent I made a mistake….
I kept thinking about it though. For weeks now she has been having a hard time sleeping. So often her and I would be up reading books together to help her think about something other than her fears that she wouldn’t much talk about. She wouldn’t talk about it…. and those nights I wouldn’t press her to talk about it as I was trying to get her to think of other things so she could relax and get back to sleep.
She wouldn’t talk about what scared her. Why hadn’t that been more of a red flag for me?
I was still doubtful though even as I asked her about MOMO. It was instantly clear, she froze in place, she wouldn’t talk about it from fright. So I talked to the other kids and our 8 year old told us all about it! Our 13 year old knew about it too. They said that was why their sister wouldn’t talk about it. They didn’t believe it, but she did. They said she had seen it on Roblox videos on youtube. Our sweet and caring and sensitive little girl could just shake her head and was clearly worried for her siblings who were telling us about it. Why hadn’t the kids told me? Because 2 didn’t think much about it, and the one who did believed she would die if she tell us about MOMO.
Not going to go looking for MOMO
I didn’t ask any of the kids to try to find the MOMO videos but did tell our 13 year old son that if he finds out about any to let us know. Now we need to come up with a new plan for YouTube if it is to be used at all for the younger kids in the future.
While my own daughter didn’t do the challenges, she isn’t what I would call ok. She is terrified because of this and it is in large part, my fault as her Mother. My job is to protect her. There is going to be a lot of comfort and support and talking about this with her. While we are a geeky family that has loved youtube, and while husband works in cybersecurity, MOMO still found her way into our home. We dropped the ball.
I will not for one minute shame or add to the Mommy Wars over YouTube. I am posting this because I was wrong, that this was no big deal. I don’t know is any kids have been physically harmed as I have not seen that evidence, but I will say one of our daughters is not ok.
As of the 27th of February, no physical harm being confirmed as the results of MOMO. Let me know if someone finds something!