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Current Online Safety Concerns

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Dear Parents,

 We write the following for your reference and to keep you informed.  

  There has been growing concern among parents about disturbing things appearing on YouTube in recent weeks, the last three days in particular has seen an explosion in media coverage of something being referred to as ‘The Momo Challenge.’

 What is it?

The Momo Challenge is a new internet phenomenon where children are dared to do different things. It may start simply with dancing in public or being silly, but the tasks usually get darker and head towards an emphasis on self harming behaviours. A Japanese film studio had made a rather sinister looking animatronics puppet with a large crooked smile and long black hair for a completely unrelated project,  for some reason this has been linked to the challenge and ‘she’ is now referred to as Momo. The threatening part of the challenge is additionally dark as it comes with a threat of Momo committing violence towards anyone who doesn’t carry out the dares given.

 As an extension to this original challenge there have recent been ‘spliced-in scenes’ in YouTube videos.  This is where someone has amended an innocent video to include malicious content such as that mentioned above.  The malicious content is quite disturbing.

 In both of these situations we want to assure parents that the amount of content on the internet of this negative nature is actually very small and media attention has in some ways actually started to result in more of it appearing.  While lots of children now are hearing about the Momo challenge and can Google a picture of the puppet, it is actually quite unlikely that they will find the full videos or content themselves.  Therefore, while we do not suggest permanently banning your children from using the internet, we advise you do not allow younger children to watch YouTube, or have access to the internet, completely unsupervised.

We appreciate it isn’t an easy thing to talk about with children, and the reason the challenge has exploded so much in recent weeks is because when people hear about it they actually go seeking it. If you do wish to talk to your children about it however, we recommend talking more generally about what they should do if they see something that scares them on the internet, or if someone tells them to do something on the internet.

 If you want to find our more or are worried you may find the following links helpful.  

 https://parentzone.org.uk/article/three-minute-briefing-momo-challenge

UK Safer Internet Centre - www.saferinternet.org.uk

Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre - www.ceop.police.uk

Think U Know - www.thinkuknow.co.uk

NSPCC - www.nspcc.org.uk

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