By: Natasha Archary
If like me your timelines were flooded with images, news reports and shocking audio clips of “Momo” recently, I’m sure you’d agree when I say, enough already. The bulging eyes and V-shaped creepy smiling face of this ‘monster’ went viral a few weeks ago. Causing widespread panic with parents over Momo’s haunting influence on innocent kids online.
According to many media reports and news inserts, parents claimed that videos of the evil-looking woman appeared automatically on kiddies Youtube videos. In some footage, Momo can be heard rhyming that she “will be waiting at the edge of the bed, waiting for you to be dead.” Parents swore that the children were watching their usual episodes of Peppa Pig and other addictive Youtube kiddie’s playlists. Then out of the blue, Momo invades the screen, terrifying kids.
What do we know
As with most viral videos and online trends, people share content before first dissecting and comprehending it. A shocking, frightening headline that involves children is all we need to send the parent in us into a panic-stricken sheep. We follow blindly. Share without questioning and before you know it the entire story is blown out of proportion.
“Scary Momo monster is brainwashing children to self-harm in new challenge.”
I get it as a parent you see something like that and immediately your protective instinct is that you need to inform your circle of moms and dads. Or better yet, let’s all band together and boycott Youtube. We need to stop our kids from going online it’s not safe.
If you take a step back and allow your brain to just process that information for a second, you’d be able to approach this practically.
- Youtube, like all social platforms allows you to report, block and ban certain content from reaching you. So, if these parents did in fact happen upon these disturbing videos, why did they not take responsibility and take the above actions? This would have stopped the videos from spreading. Youtube has since released a statement that there have not been any reports of videos in this regard.
- You do not have to be digitally savvy to understand that fake news is actually a thing. For Momo’s image and voice prompts to have magically intercepted a Youtube video, a very skilled video editor would have had to strategically clip that footage into a Youtube video and then upload it. The information that most media outlets were reporting, that ‘Momo just appears’ is what I like to call lazy journalism. Misleading the public. Just because you see something is trending doesn’t mean you have to latch onto it and spread the toxic waste.
- Momo was actually a sculpture, created by a Japanese artist Keisuke Aiso for a 3D cinematic project. The artist has since destroyed the sculpture due to global pressure.
- Very few people seem capable of differentiating a reputable news outlet from garbage disposal sites that just recycle junk. People believe anything as long as it pops up in a Google search.
Monitor your child’s online activities
Look around you. Everything is digitized today. Cutting your child off completely is only going to stunt their interaction with tech. Most kids today know how to operate a smart device like it’s second nature.
This isn’t a bad thing. It’s the age they were born into. A set of skills to adapt and hone. You’re not an irresponsible parent for allowing your child access to a few hours of hand-eye co-ordination games. The irresponsibility comes in if your child is online unsupervised.
There are parenting apps that can help you monitor your child’s device and their activities. Without invading their space. Gone are the days you need to confiscate their phones. Most smartphones allow parents the option of setting up parenting controls on start-up.
You then set up alerts on your personal email account which will notify you if your child manages to bypass restricted sites, apps and downloads. Simple. Sign them up on verified Youtube accounts which will mean content is rated, authentic and safe. Read the disclaimers and make the informed decision when selecting their playlists.
I get it. As a parent you’d much rather keep them little for as long as you can. Believe me, if I could, my kid would walk around in a protective, super-stealth, Vibranium armored bubble. As much as we want them to be safe, parenting isn’t about preventing them from exploring and trying out new things. They have to get out there and discover the world. Not the world 30 years ago (before the internet). The world, as it is right now.