In recent days, it has been virtually impossible to peruse the Internet without seeing articles related to the Momo Challenge. Further research led us to this discovery:
Carmel Glassbrook, manager of Professionals Online Safety Helpline, reported that they have received calls on the topic of Momo, from schools and local authorities and police. “The main problem”, she said, “was not the phenomenon itself but that professionals and parents were sharing Facebook posts about Momo without checking on its validity. It has become a viral topic, founded more on scaremongering headlines than well-researched facts."
The true lessons that we hope can be gleaned from this most recent viral scare:
Limit students’ access to social media. Research shows that teens spend approximately 9 hours a day in front of a screen. This contributes to anxiety and unhappiness. An ideal limit is approximately 60-90 minutes. Those additional hours can then be spent with face-to-face interactions with friends and family, work, activities, and studies.
Model and teach children safe practices online - remind children that they should not communicate with strangers online for any reason.
Keep video games and all online activity in shared family spaces - this makes it far easier to ensure that students are using devices appropriately.
Monitor your child’s activity on their devices. Send the message that you can and will check their devices at any time to ensure they are using them appropriately.
Install apps that allow you to monitor their activity. Norton allows you to set usage time limits. KidBridge allows you to track calls, texts, and social media activity. Qustodio allows you to track and set usage limits. These are just a few of the many possibilities.
If you have any questions related to online safety, do not hesitate to contact local authorities or your child’s school.