Weber School District and neighboring school district officials have been made aware of a troubling social media challenge geared to engage and cyberbully children and young adults – the "Momo Challenge." The challenge has been reported on local and national news stations, as well. Reports of the "Momo Challenge" directly targeting and/or impacting students in Weber School District have not yet been substantiated, but as a precaution, we are informing all parents/guardians of this current and potentially dangerous social media trend.
The purpose of the "Momo Challenge" is to utilize video games and social media platforms such as Minecraft, WhatsApp and Facebook to encourage children and young adults to commit dangerous and potentially violent acts towards others or even themselves. "Momo" is a ghoulish-looking avatar that threatens and cyber-bullies young people in the United States and around the world. The "Momo Challenge" has been linked to acts of self-harm and suicide. The challenge draws children in with a chat feature wherein they are asked to perform small tasks, but then escalates to more violent acts, even self-inflicted harm. The communicator requests photographs of the young person engaging in these serious acts as proof of follow-through. Even more troubling, if young people refuse to perform the tasks or acts (challenges), "Momo" threatens to leak personal information on the internet, leaves disturbing and threatening messages, and sends violent images to the viewer.
We strongly encourage parents/guardians to talk with their children about this dangerous challenge and closely monitor their online screen time and activities. Also, please be reminded that you/your child may utilize the SafeUT Tip Line/Crisis Line App or website, which allows users to submit a tip and/or speak directly with a crisis counselor at the University of Utah Neurological Institute (UNI). All schools in Weber District have promoted this valuable resource, and we encourage each and every parent/guardian to download the SafeUT App to your Smartphone and other digital devices.
The greatest deterrents to these dangerous challenges which circulate online with the intent to prey on children is open communication between parent and child and vigilant monitoring of your child's use of social media, the websites they've visited, and video gaming.
If you'd like to speak with someone about how to communicate with your children about the "Momo Challenge" or other cyber-bullying concerns, please contact your school's guidance counselor or the Weber School District Student Services Department (801-476-7800).