What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word Momo?
A savoury snack that originated in Tibet that has been modified in innovative ways by our desi chefs as a hugely popular street food, right?
Well, this word now acquires a real murky meaning, as an online game, modeled on the controversial as well as dangerous Blue Whale Challenge. This has become the new headache for both the watchdogs of social media as well as the parents. Named the ‘MOMO challenge’, this is the game which is proving to be the new menace for innocent children using social media.
Innovation is not something unusual. In order to give wind to creativity as well as advertise some product, or raise social awareness, people come up with innovative challenges, which sometimes involve famous celebrities as well, who promote this challenge for just a cause.
While some of these challenges, like the Ice Bucket Challenge or Hum Fit to India Fit Challenge, really serve the cause with flying colors, but some of them are plain idiotic, like the Kiki challenge, which makes us wonder if we’re using our mental capabilities in the right direction or not.
But what is the MOMO challenge? Why is this being equated to the notorious Blue Whale Challenge, and how it is extremely dangerous for the children?
MOMO challenge is a WhatsApp based game, that provokes children, especially teenagers to commit suicide, on almost the same lines as the Blue Whale challenge. According to the Computer Crime Investigation Unit in the Mexican state of Tabasco, the game started on Facebook where members were “challenged” to communicate with an unknown number. It has claimed the life of one individual in Argentina.
In this game, the communication form used by ‘Momo’ is an image of a woman with spooky features and protruding eyes lifted from the works of Japanese artist Midori Hayashi, who is not associated at all with this game in any way. This game has now invaded, with a complaint being filed at Jalpaiguri in West Bengal. In her complaint, a college student said that following a spat with her mother, she had posted in the social media that she wished to take her own life. She soon received a Whatsapp message over her mobile phone from an unknown number allegedly inviting her to take the Momo Game challenge. When she sought to know the sender’s identity, the person revealed it verbally she claimed. Scared over the situation, the girl claimed she had informed her elder brother, who warned her against participating in the game. She then informed the police.
Is there no solution to the menace? Of course there is. Taking cognizance of the issue, an advisory issued by the Ministry of Electronics and IT has the following guidelines for the parents:-
• Becoming withdrawn from friends and family
• Persistent low mood and unhappiness
• Looking worried that stops him/her from carrying out day to day tasks
• Sudden outbursts of anger directed at themselves or others
• Loss of interest in activities that they used to enjoy
• Visible marks like deep cuts or wounds on any part of the body of the child
• Check in with your child, ask how things are going.
• If your child is talking about any level of distress, do not hesitate to ask them about changes in mental health.
• Unless there is reason to believe your child already knows of or has played the game, don’t discuss about the Blue Whale game. By doing so, you increase the chance that your child will search for it on their own.
• Monitor your children’s online & social media activity to ensure they are not engaging with this game.
• Install a good cyber/mobile parenting software which helps them in monitoring your children.
• Remind your child that you are there and will support them as they face life challenges. Symptoms
With the advent of modern technology, internet and social media have now become a two faced weapon, which can trigger massive disasters if fallen into wrong hands. The MOMO challenge may be a problem, but if it is tackled well, it can be nipped in the bud, and going by the enthusiasm of the Indian governments, this may have minimal effects on the Indian children.