PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A terrifying video is popping up in kid-centric content on the internet. It’s called the “Momo Challenge” and it encourages children to commit suicide.
Kim Kardashian West, a mother of three, took to Instagram Wednesday afternoon and tagged YouTube for help.
The reason? A face that nightmares are made of is popping up in online content geared towards children, with a message that brings those nightmares to life.
More parents around the country are wrestling with the same thing; the fear of what has been dubbed “The Momo Challenge.”
“It’s used to terrify kids. You hear all of these stories about kids who can’t sleep after this thing,” said Alan Crowetz, a tech expert with InfoStream.cc. “It’s pretty creepy looking.”
As creepy as the drooping face that appears in these videos may be, the message it is spreading is far more sinister. Children and parents have reported Momo popping up on YouTubeKids channels, on Snapchat and Facebook, instructing children to harm themselves — or else.
Twitter user @thePediMom posted a series of videos she found on YouTube where even more visual suicide instructions were embedded in videos meant for kids.
Crowetz said that this strange and alarming content is hard for parents to regulate, but that it also serves as a call to action for parents to discuss internet safety with their children and to play a key role in their social media interactions.
“Arguably you should have access to their password login and see what they are doing,” he said. “There are also a lot of apps out there that you can put on the computer and monitor everything.”
He adds that no matter how covert the spliced-in videos seem or how secretive the Momo Movement has been, it is all now out in the open and can serve an active purpose.
“In some ways, this Momo situation is bringing a lot of awareness that is much needed, that may ultimately end up protecting a child,” Crowetz said.
Crowetz also said there is no real way for parents to know for sure that the content their child is watching is free of this violent messaging.
So, especially for young children, he says be present while they stream.