MOMO CHALLENGE UPDATE

Dear Parents / Carers

Dear Parents / Carers

There has been a great deal of press coverage over the last few days about Momo, so we wanted to give you the full facts.

There have been reports of the Momo image popping up on a computer screens, including through children’s web games like Peppa Pig and YouTube. The image itself could be disturbing to children, as it might frighten them. However, this is only the image and does not link to the game. This has proved to be very frightening so children may need to be re-assured that it’s not real and cannot do them any harm. For young children this can be very upsetting. This pop-up image is actually an image of a sculpture designed by a Japanese artist and represents a folklore character. It is just being used by hackers to create distress and sensationalise the app.

What the newspaper articles are confusing with this is the Momo challenge. The challenge itself is very concerning. It sets a series of challenges to users including self-harm and ultimately encouraging them to commit suicide. It uses persuasive blackmailing techniques including threats to show all of their images to their friends and contacts, some of which they say are compromising. This is completely untrue and nobody has access to their pictures, but they are tricked into thinking this.

To put minds at rest this challenge is very difficult to find on the internet and cannot just be found using simple searches of app store. In addition it works through WhatsApp and Facebook; apps which children shouldn’t be accessing. To access the section where challenges are received, they must add personal details such as their telephone number. This should be another warning sign to young people as they are always taught not to share personal information online. This poses the risk of data harvesting.

What we are doing as a staff?

Making sure staff are aware of what Momo is in case they hear pupils talking about it
Re-enforce the normal messages about staying safe online including the importance of keeping personal information safe.
Depending upon the age of the children, emphasise the fact that if they come across something they don’t like on-line they should tell a parent, teacher or trusted grown up.
Rest assured that WhatsApp and Facebook cannot be accessed in school and if they do get curious and start searching for Momo it would flag in the school’s monitoring solution. (*)
We have blocked the search term Momo for students*
What can can you as parents do?

Be aware that this pop-up image exists and be prepared in case your child accidentally comes across it.
Be prepared that the image might upset the child and be prepared to explain that its’ not real and it cannot do anything to harm them!
Work with your child to help them understand how they can stay safe online.

In the next couple of weeks we will be running an E Safety workshop for parents to reinforce the rules we follow at school and being issuing guidance on how you can keep your child safe online. A letter will be issued once a date and time has been confirmed.

Mr Gregg

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