Fears over an online craze targeting children through social media has led a Worthing primary school to issue advice to parents.
The Momo Challenge, which has been widely reported as an internet hoax, is alleged to be a sinister game where users are contacted through YouTube videos or WhatsApp by ‘Momo’ and threatened into performing tasks.
Despite actual documented cases being few and far between, the Momo Challenge, which uses a frightening image based on a Japanese sculpture, can allegedly push children to self-harm or follow dangerous instructions or face threats such as their parents being harmed.
Yesterday afternoon, Durrington Infant and Junior Schools, in Salvington Road, posted a document to their Facebook page, advising parents on how to combat the potential threat.
The guidance, from charity National Online Safety, suggests parents speak regularly to their children and monitor their online use, to see if they are being affected by harmful content.
They are also advised to tell their children Momo is not real in a bid to defuse the urban legend.
Peer pressure and Chinese whispers have played a major part in the Momo phenomenon, which first appeared about 12 months ago, to potentially appear to be more prevalent than it is.
Parents are advised to remind their children not everything they see or hear about is real and to tell an adult if they encounter something distressing online.
Safety settings and parental controls can also be adjusted to help filter out harmful content.
Durrington Infant and Junior School’s Mike Lewis said: “At Durrington Infant & Junior School we take the safety and wellbeing of our children very seriously. Our goal is to support parents with making informed decisions and choices as how best to safeguard their children when using the internet and social media platforms.
“We believe that sharing information provided by agencies such as the NSPCC and National Online Safety website will help achieve this.”