McGrath writes to Chief Constable about internet Momo challenge.
A nasty phenomena has created controversy in the the games’ scene on the internet and could potentially harm children.
South Down MLA Children and Young People’s Spokesperson for the SDLP Colin McGrath has written to the Chief Constable to demand action over the Momo challenge which encourages children to accept a WhatsApp contact who dares them carry out dangerous tasks.
The MLA for South Down commented: “This is the worrying downside to the internet. While the net is full of information, education and fun, if used incorrectly it can lead to danger and even death.
“This latest craze involves an eerie cartoon character popping up at the end of normal videos and urging children to add a contact to WhatsApp which they then use to challenge the user into carrying out dangerous tasks.
“This craze appears to be targeting very young children who are much more impressionable and use apps like WhatsApp which many parents would trust are safe for their children to use.
“I have asked the Chief Constable to liaise with his UK, Irish and European colleagues to see if there are ways of Coordinating complaints and working with Facebook, YouTube and others to shut this down.
“Our children need protected against the worst excesses of the internet and we need to make sure it is safe. Children will use the internet so banning it is not an option but policing it and keeping it safe is imperative.”
NSPCC Concerned About MOMO.
An NSPCC spokesperson said: “The constantly evolving digital world means a steady influx of new apps and games and can be hard for parents to keep track of.
“That’s why it’s important for parents to talk regularly with children about these apps and games and the potential risks they can be exposed to.
“The NSPCC publishes advice and guidance for parents on discussing online safety with their children, as well as Net Aware – the UK’s only parental guide to social media and gaming apps.”
If adults are concerned or have any questions on how to approach the subject with their children you can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or visit the NSPCC website.
Children who are feeling worried about their activity on apps or online games can contact Childline 24 hours a day, online and over the phone, on 0800 11 11 or by
* Net Aware is a parental guide to the social networks used by children, by the NSPCC in partnership with O2.
* The Net Aware app can be downloaded for free from the Apple Store or Google Play. It can also be accessed online at:
* Adults who have a technical question or would like support with keeping children safe online can call the O2 and NSPCC Online Safety Helpline on 0808 800 5002.
Police Comments on MOMO.
Police have launched a nationwide alert on the dangers of MOMO. Detective Sergeant Elaine McCormill from PSNI’s Public Protection Branch said: “Whilst no official reports have been made to Police, we are aware of the so-called ‘Momo’ challenge and are already liaising with other UK Police Services to try to identify the extent of the problem and to look for opportunities to deal with this issue.
“This extremely disturbing challenge conceals itself within other harmless looking games or videos played by children and when downloaded, it asks the user to communicate with ‘Momo’ via popular messaging applications such as WhatsApp. It is at this point that children are threatened that they will be cursed or their family will be hurt if they do not self-harm.
“I am disgusted that a so-called game is targeting our young children and I would encourage parents to know what your children are looking at and who they are talking to. Whilst the threat of a curse may sound silly to an adult, it could be a very frightening prospect for a young child and they may feel under pressure to carry out acts to protect themselves or family from further harm.
“The most fundamental piece of advice that I can offer is to speak with your children – let them know that they do not have to deal with any concerns on their own. It is crucial that parents are involved with their children’s online lives and I’d urge parents to make children aware of online dangers and ensure they know that they can speak to someone if anything or anyone online causes them concern.
“I would also advise parents to ensure that any devices used by your children are restricted to age suitable content. However, I am aware of media reports that the “Momo” challenge has popped up even when these controls are in place so there really is no substitution for supervising the games that children are playing and the videos that they watch online.
“I would encourage anyone who has been a victim of the ‘Momo’ challenge to contact Police on 101 or of course, 999 in an emergency so that we can examine the device, gather information and investigate the incident. A wealth of information and support is also available online, including on the following sites: