February 28 is National Digital Learning Day and schools in Caroline County are celebrating today by focusing on digital citizenship and being kind online. At the same time, we have learned through news reports as well as reports from a few CCPS principals about a new viral concern called the “Momo Challenge”.
The “Momo Challenge” begins with the recipient receiving notification on a social media network (example: Facebook, KidsYouTube, Peppa Pig, and Fortnight) of a Japanese statue created by a special effects company that is not associated with the challenge. The recipient is urged to perform self-harming acts through violent imagery, intimidation, and threats. Requests of photographs are asked for proof. The tasks escalate to serious violent acts, including suicide.
In Caroline County, there have been reports of elementary and middle school students hearing of the “Momo Challenge” and being frightened by it. According to some national and local news reports, children as young as six-years-old have heard of the “Momo Challenge.” Those same reports have said this challenge has been tied to cyberbullying and suicide.
If this sounds familiar, this is similar to the “Slender Man” and the “The Blue Whale” challenges in years past.
We are not sharing this information with your student, but rather with you as their family. Please remember that as a parent/guardian, you have control over their electronic device(s). If your student has a social media account or views YouTube videos, please consider age appropriateness and exposure from older siblings or friends. Talk with them about the content they access, the importance of not accepting any communications or invitations from people they do not know, and not sharing personal information. Continue to have regular conversations with them about Internet safety and monitor what’s happening on their accounts. Try not to interrogate, but ask open-ended questions that will help you to understand what your student is thinking and feeling. Even under normal circumstances, your child should expect that you are monitoring their photos, conversations, and social media.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your school administrator or school counselor.