Parents across the north west have been warned about a “disgraceful” new online cyber bullying game which urges children and vulnerable people to undertake a dangerous task including self-harm.
The appearance of the sick ‘Momo’ game has been highlighted by the PSNI in Derry and An Garda Siochana in Donegal.
The NSPCC, meanwhile, have said it was vital that parents speak to their children regularly about new games and applications (apps) and the risks they can present.
The PSNI in Foyle have advised parents that this ‘game’ “conceals itself within other harmless looking games played by our kids.”
“There has also been reports of parts of the game being viewable on YouTube,” a spokesperson said on social media.
Police in Derry have shared an image of a character from the game which they said when downloaded “tells your child to communicate with them via WhatsApp and a number of other widely used apps. ‘Momo’ then tells your child to self harm or she will put a curse on the!
“Our advice as always, is to supervise the games your kids play and be extremely mindful of the videos they are watching on YouTube. Ensure that the devices they have access to are restricted to age suitable content,” the spokesperson added.
An Garda Siochana in Donegal have also taken to Facebook to warn that the “disgraceful” game is doing the rounds on social media.
“The Momo Challenge is a form of cyberbullying where Momo asks to be contacted through a social media site and then asks the person to perform a series of dangerous tasks including self-harm,” a spokesperson said. “There is a disturbing image of Momo online that parents should make themselves familiar with.
“Please, please, please always supervise your children or those that are vulnerable while online. As parents, its all too easy sometimes to hand over a device to a child for that few minutes peace but there can be devastating consequences if they are left unsupervised.”
A spokesperson for NSPCC NI, which has offices in both Foyle and Belfast, 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 they 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 visiting www.Childline.org.uk.
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 www.net-aware.org.uk.
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.