Helping children understand the ‘Momo Challenge’ hoax

Penn Manor has received questions about a hoax circulating on websites and social media called the “Momo Challenge,” and we would like to update parents and guardians on what this is, and what it is not.

“Momo” is yet another viral online hoax with little factual basis. The purported “challenge” consists of a photo of a threatening character (“Momo”) commanding the recipient to participate in a dare that may include self-harm or violence against others. If recipients fail to carry out the dare, Momo threatens to come after them.

In reality, there is no “Momo.” The face used in the hoax is a photo of a sculpture by a Japanese special effects company that makes props for horror movies. The photo resurfaced on Instagram and Reddit last summer and has been widely circulating on the Internet for months.

Somewhere along the way, the self-harm “challenge” became associated with the image. However, there is no evidence that an actual challenge exists. Despite this fact, fears about the “Momo Challenge” may be causing anxiety for some students and their parents.

As with other online hoaxes, it’s important to help children understand that the Internet can be the source of misinformation and hoaxes, and they need to make good choices while online. Penn Manor teachers and staff are well-equipped to help your children learn how to safely navigate the web.

The school district uses filtering technology to block offensive material and content that is inappropriate for children. Of course, no technology is 100 percent effective, and the oversight of caring adults is always the best filter.

If you or your children continue to have concerns about the “Momo Challenge,” feel free to contact your child’s principal.