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Challenge: Open Discussion

My Thoughts on The Momo Challenge

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First there was the Ice Bucket Challenge, which was worthy and awe inspiring.

Next, it was the In My Feelings Challenge, which was trivial but kinda catchy, albeit annoying, and also slightly dangerous if actually performed while driving a car.

But the latest viral craze is close to criminal.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, you may not want to Google it. Allow me to spare you the scarring images. The Momo Challenge is a creepy character you'd see in a Tim Burton movie that, apparently, hacks into kids' video games and YouTube channels, daring them to do dangerous things.

I should preface this by saying I've never experienced this actual interaction and am only going on what I've seen and read. But, according to articles from reputable publications, missions like turning on the stove, harming family members and even taking one's own life are encouraged.

As if the image and language isn't disturbing enough to small children, luring potentially immature, insecure tweens and teens is reprehensible.

It's no wonder it was everywhere on the internet yesterday as it has the makings of prime time clickbait: A provocative image and shocking headlines, targeting kids and their excitable parents.

In an effort to squelch the hysteria, Forbes published an article claiming an overreaction and likening it to a viral ghost story. They also cited chain letters as the original "Momo", saying this kind of thing has been around for years, it's just the next incarnation of spook.

I argue otherwise.

Ghost stories were scary, sure. Chain letters were also a bit of a mind f*ck, persuading us to forward them on or suffer the ultimate consequence of death. But none of my generation's childhood fear factors encouraged specific acts of harming others or ourselves.

In regards to the heightened response, as a parent, I overreact about a rash. A disturbing, uninvited, hacker infiltrating Daniel Tiger and his otherwise copacetic neighborhood saying my daughter should harm her brother? You better believe I'm going to lose my sh*t. And then immediately share on social so other parents can lose theirs as well.

More recently, CNN posted a piece, again prompting parents to calm down, saying that only two teens in India have been known to commit suicide in relation to the challenge, another tween in California reportedly turned on the stove at the urging of this morbid-looking muppet and that children in England as young as five have threatened violence on behalf of Momo. And, worse, that there are now imitators taking advantage of Momo's meteoric rise, making their own horrifying and harm-mongering media.

Well, I don't know about you, but that's enough for me. I don't need hundreds or thousands of kids to be represented or affected. In fact, I'm glad they're not. But if it can happen to one, it can happen to mine.

So, in my opinion, this is absolutely something that should be overblown. I hope others are sick of seeing this image. It likely means it's reaching more people, specifically more parents, who must be aware of what's going on in their kids' apps and games .

The conversation needs to be had, between parents, teachers, caretakers and, most especially, children.

When I posted about it on my Instagram Stories yesterday, I received a tremendous amount of responses. Many mothers were completely unaware as was I. One immediately brought it up to her first grader, who replied back that her classmate "talks to Momo all the time!" A first grader.

You can cite hype, hysteria, dark humor, or helicopter parenting. Call it whatever you'd like. While you're doing that, I'll be over here hijacking my daughter's iPad, ensuring she's safe.

To read the post I wrote about taking away YouTube after discovering my daughter deals with anxiety and speaking with a therapist, click here.

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