That Momo issue has been going around for days and how it encourages kids to do things like self-harm and suicide. I remember last Tuesday, my sister-in-law informed me about this and I was surprised to find out about it. Coincidentally on that same night, a co-parent shared an article about this in our Viber group and I was alarmed. Yes, I let my kids watch videos and play with Roblox during downtime, and unfortunately, this is where Momo does its magic.
The following day, I asked my eldest daughter if she knows Momo and her reply was “Yes.” Then I asked her how she found out about it and told me through Roblox. She was playing a game and saw Momo popped in the the screen. She didn’t open it because she got scared of the face.
My initial reaction was to not let them play with gadgets to censor them from Momo challenge. Good thing the kids’ phone retired and I have no plans of getting them a new one. If they want to use my phone, then a limit has to be set and Roblox or watching YouTube videos are not allowed. After all, why expose them to things like this, right?
Then again, my husband decided to do a different approach.
Instead of censorship, he decided to tell the kids about Momo challenge, regardless if it’s real or hoax. We sat down with the kids and watched Momo videos together so we will understand what this is all about. We found out that Momo (allegedly) was able to get through apps like Roblox and Fortnite. Once you download it, it could access your phone and call you to do certain things. We were trying to look for specific voice instructions from Momo regarding self-harm and the like but all we found were either in Spanish (which we obviously don’t understand) or slurred speech that it’s hard to determine what it is actually saying.
You might be wondering why we did it. Yes, we are aware that Momo challenge could be dangerous because of its possible impact on the younger generation. Still, we decided to tell the kids and made them aware about it.
Why did we do it?
For us, we feel that this is an issue that must be resolved within the family. There is already an ongoing concern about use of gadgets and its impact on kids. We decided to talk to the kids and let them know about what is happening. We showed what Momo looks like and talked about what it could possibly do or ask them to do. Consequently, we discussed measures in case they will be asked to do something unusual or not comfortable with.
Communication is important in the family. We want the kids to feel that they can talk to us and tell us anything, and we won’t shut them down.
Also, we believe that shielding the kids from what is happening in the world won’t help. Kids get old and parents get older, and we won’t be there all the time to protect them against these harsh realities. They need to be aware of what is happening and at the same time, tell them about what they should and should not do when confronted by these situations.
What can we, parents, do about possible online threats?
- Pay (closer) attention to online activities. Yes, I am guilty of letting my kids use gadgets so I could get things done. I am slowly changing that by being more proactive on my kids’ online activities. I imposed time limits and let them watch where I could hear them so I’ll have an idea of what they are watching. I constantly ask them about what they are watching and religiously remind them on how to keep them safe online.
- Impose limitations. If we cannot completely remove gadgets, then at least impose limitations on their usage. Modify safety settings on YouTube, impose a rule on the duration of gadget use, and always set an alarm to remind the kids that they only have x minutes to use the gadget. Kids need to know their limitations.
- Educate the kids. Instead of shielding the kids, we decided to use this as an opportunity to explain and more importantly, educate our kids on how to protect themselves online. Set rules, give constant reminders about the rules, and always provide positive advice.
- Communicate. This is also important. Instead of parents saying and kids listening, there is an opportunity for dialogue where both parties get to talk and listen. This makes it easier for us to reach out to our kids and vice versa. They would also be more honest to us because they know that they can trust us when they say something.
Then again, this is us and our choice as parents. I totally respect whatever way you’ll handle the Momo challenge issue with your kids because that’s your call as a parent. There’s no rule book or right and wrong on how to become the best parent. I guess that’s the beauty of parenting. We follow our instinct and apply what we think is the best approach for our kids.