Social Media Safety-Important

28 Feb, 2019

Dear Artesian Parents and Guardians,

We want to share information about a social media challenge that has resurfaced and come to our attention called the Momo Challenge or Momo Suicide Challenge. There is new, conflicting information citing Momo as a hoax; however, we take the challenge seriously because student safety is our main priority. We feel it is important to contact you with information about the challenge because of the potential harm to our students.

Momo is an avatar of a woman with birdlike eyes that will show up on online apps commonly used by children such as Facebook, YouTube Kids, ROBLOX, WhatsApp or Minecraft video game. (Please note we do not allow any of the aforementioned apps or games). 
The bird-like person will explain a challenge either in video or ask kids to text to a specific number to talk to “Momo.” Momo will then encourage kids to participate in dangerous activities which include self-harm and suicide. Failure to complete the challenge will result in the child being cursed with an “evil spirit”.  While this may seem silly to us, it is potentially a serious threat for our students.  
Please note that our district has blocked the search terms from our computers/Chromebooks; however, we are unable to block cell phones connected to students own data plans. As a district, student safety is our #1 priority. We administer extensive levels of security to ensure that our online content for students is age appropriate. Though we do allow Youtube (not Youtube Kids), it is filtered, monitored and restricted to what students can view.
Parents, our district counselors have created a few conversation tips on how to speak with your children about the challenge.  Please see below:
Tell Children It’s Not Real: Let your child know that Momo is not a real person and cannot harm them in any way no matter how frightening she may seem.
If Children Have Seen The Videos, Ask Them About Their Experience: This challenge could bring up fearful or hurtful feelings in children.  Assess whether they are feeling scared about it or are thinking of self-harm because of the video.  This can be done through the following:
1)Tell them you are glad they came and told you about the video.
2) Let them know you are always there to talk to them if they need help.
3) Additional parent questions for children (below):
Question- How did the video make you feel? 
-Be understanding. Please tell the child that you understand the video may make him/her feel very scared.
Question- Did the video make you feel like harming yourself? 
-If the child says yes, please ask them if they would feel comfortable talking to one of our school counselors, and we will give them a self-harm assessment. Parents, if you have immediate concerns about self-harm, please contact 911, visit our local Emergency Room or call an emergency crisis line such as The Jason Foundation,  615-264-2323, for assistance.
Question- Where did you see the video?  
-Assess if they saw it somewhere at home or at school. If it were seen at school, please inform us asap. 
Parents, if your child has a social media account, we encourage you to consider age appropriateness and exposure from friends or older siblings.
Please have a conversation with your children about:
  • the content they access.
  • the importance of NOT accepting any communications or invitations from people they do not know.
  • not sharing personal information.
  • Please continue to have regular conversations with children about Internet safety and monitor what’s happening on their accounts.
To learn more, please see links below. They are also listed on our website under ‘ Safety’.
Jayne Burke
Director of Community Relations