And you thought Fortnite was a menace?
A sick online game played through Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp, it's already been linked to the suicide of a 12-year-old girl.
Momo begins with an unidentified administrator, possibly a bot, sending violent images to the player - and proceeds to issue a series of “challenges” which the player is warned to obey on pain of blackmail.
Although the details are murky, it seems the game somehow hacks the player’s phone to access their photos and data. These are held hostage in order to force the player - now the victim - to comply with various commands or face release of the material.
Commentators have noted similarities between Momo and the notorious Blue Whale game that allegedly drove 130 teens to suicide in 2016.
Blue Whale set players an escalating series of alarming tasks, from watching horror movies to self-harm. On the final day of the “challenge,” victims were ordered to die by suicide.
Police suspect that a 12-year-old Argentine schoolgirl who took her own life on 22 July was encouraged to do so as part of the game. They are also investigating an 18-year-old’s role in the tragedy, whom the girl may have met online.
Momo’s avatar is a disturbing image of a woman with mad, bulging eyes, a boomerang-shaped mouth and bird legs for arms. Japanese artist Midori Hayashi created the image but is not associated with the game, which is believed to have originated in Japan but is growing in popularity in Europe and South America.
Family Zone cyber experts stress the importance of talking to children about their digital wellbeing before a crisis erupts. Be familiar with their games and apps, they advise - and make it a point to play along from time to time. Keep devices out of the bedroom.
And above all, make sure your kids feel they can come to you whenever they see or hear anything online that makes them uncomfortable. Reassure them that you will not take their devices away, that together you will find a way to solve the problem.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, you are urged to phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Extreme games like Momo are enough to panic any parent. But keeping a cool head, keeping conversations open, and applying sensible parental controls are the best ways you can protect your Children. Shop now and save 20% on complete cyber safety for your children- hurry offer ends soon
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