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Local Schools Using Momo Challenge Hoax as Online Safety Lesson

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: February 28, 2019 10:45 PM

The Momo Challenge has been a trending topic about children's safety in the internet world. Momo is described as a creepy-doll figure that allegedly reaches out to children via YouTube, WhatsApp, or Facebook, and encourages them to self-harm and commit dangerous challenges. There's been lots of rumors about it online, which has people questioning if it's real or not.

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The challenge appears to be an internet hoax. 

YouTube clarified rumors about the Momo Challenge on their Twitter page saying, “We’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies.”

“I almost think it’s one of these crazy internet rumors that’s popular because people are talking about it. I haven’t heard about anyone actually being hurt by it,” Caroline Knorr, a senior parenting editor for Common Sense Media, said.

"This shows the dark side of people that use platforms as means for bad things,” Mark Hughes, the principal of Pike Lake Elementary School, said.

WDIO reached out to the Duluth and Superior Police Department about the Momo Challenge. The departments said they haven’t heard about any incidents related to the challenge in the area.

The hoax has turned into an educational lesson on online safety. Local schools like Pike Lake Elementary and Virginia Minnesota Public Schools are taking extra steps to talk with parents staff, and students about responsible and careful internet use.

“We need to remind them to talk to an adult if they ever come across something that makes them feel uncomfortable. We take online privacy and safety very seriously,” Bill Bryson III, the technology director of Virginia Minnesota Public Schools, said.

"It’s just another reason why we have a responsibility to educate our students about internet safety, about hoax’s, about things they can find out there,” Mark Hughes, the principal of Pike Lake Elementary School, said.

"It’s a great opportunity for parents to talk to kids about online interaction,” Knorr said.

Online safety organizations like Common Sense Media have also been taking advantage of the hoax to remind parents to talk to children about suspicious online activity.

"It’s a topic to help kids think critically about media they are engaging with online. Parents should talk to children and say, what are you seeing out there? what do you think is real? have you heard anything about it?” Knorr said.

Pike Lake Elementary made sure to have a counselor talk to students about online safety Thursday and they're making sure to let parents know about the hoax with a newsletter and offer important online safety tips.

"We have a responsibility as parents to have conversations with students and it's a tip that's on the newsletter we will be sending home, to be mindful of what students are accessing," Hughes said.

"Make sure kids are mature enough to play and interact online responsibly and respectfully and use built in controls that every social app has to report and block malicious behavior,” Knorr said.

Credits

Alejandra Palacios

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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