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We've all seen the challenge mentioned all over our social feeds, but where did it actually come from and do you need to be worried?

 

Every few years there is a new 'internet craze' that leaves people panicking- and now ... Momo. 

So, what is it? How did it start? And do you actually need to worry or is it all just a lot of hysteria over nothing? 

UPDATE: Rest assured, Momo content around YouTube (where the claims stem from) are actively blocked.

 

Where did Momo come from?

The scary image you see of the woman with the bulging eyes and birdlike mouth is actually a sculpture. The sculpture was created by Keisuke Aisawa at a special effects firm called Link Factory. The photos of 'Momo' were first posted online in 2016 when the sculpture was displayed to the public. The firm itself has denied any involvement in what the photos have since been used for. 

This is the full, uncropped image from their Instagram page.

When did the Momo Challenge start?

On the 10th of July 2018, a user shared the photo of the 'Momo' sculpture to Reddit, where it received more than 900 comments in just a few hours. 

The next day, a  YouTuber named ReignBot uploaded a video about the photo titled: "Exploring The Momo Situation". the video talked about an urban legend that involved a mysterious Whatsapp number, that, if messaged, would lead you into a challenge that could end in your death. The video had almost a hundred thousand views in just a few hours. 

The Momo meme spread

Later that month, police in Buenos Aires were reported to be investigating whether the WhatsApp Momo challenge was involved in the suicide of a young girl after finding mentions of the game on her WhatsApp.

They said they were investigating if her "intention was to upload the video to social media as part of a challenge aimed at crediting the Momo game."

After that, the Momo news blew up with media all over the world reporting on it comparing it to the sinister Blue whale challenge that had come before it. 

What does the Momo challenge entail?

Supposedly, the Momo challenge involves children and teens being encouraged to interact with someone posing as Momo on social media or on phone chatting apps. The person then sends them dangerous and frightening challenges that could lead them to harm or even death.

Have any deaths been confirmed?

There have been four deaths of young people that police have suspected could have been connected to the challenge. As well as the young girl in Buenos Aires, there were two young men in India and another 16-year-old boy in Colombia. It is important to note however that while these links have been reported, none have been officially confirmed. 

Why is it back in the news?

On February 25th, 2019, The Herald in Scotland reported that a mum from Edinburgh, Lyn Dixon, had a frightening experience with her son.

"He showed me an image of the face on my phone and said that she had told him to go into the kitchen drawer and take out a knife and put it into his neck. We've told him it's a load of rubbish and there are bad people out there who do bad things but it's frightening, really frightening."

Since then, there have been reports of the Momo challenge showing up in Youtube videos aimed at children, and more parents have come forward saying their kids have been threatened by someone using the Momo avatar. 

What should parents do?

First up, don't panic. Momo is NOT a real entity, it is most likely a number of bored and unstable teenagers looking for notoriety and cheap thrills. As always, the best thing that parents can do is to monitor their children's social media and phone use and talk to them about what to do if they are contacted by someone frightening.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, or visit kidshelpline.com.au.