According to reports from gullible parents' organizations, police departments, and media outlets, Kids on the Internet are spreading memes featuring an image of "Momo" (actually a sculpture called "Mother Bird" created by Keisuke Aisawa for the Japanese SFX studio Link Factory) that includes explicit self-harm and suicide instructions (the "challenge" in "Momo challenge" is allegedly to get kids to hurt or kill themselves).
It's a hoax, though. There are no verified sightings of Momo Challenge memes in the wild, and this isn't even the first time this hoax has gone around; it circulated in September 2018 as well.
As Taylor Lorenz writes in The Atlantic, this is part of a genre of hoaxes that rely on parental anxiety about kids' use of technology to spread incomprehensible cultural ideas, from the Satanic Panic over backmasked secret messages in heavy metal lyrics to the "eating Tide Pods" hoax to the fictional deaths linked to the "cinnamon challenge."
As it happens, there is someone who -- unrelated to the Momo hoax -- appears to have inserted at least two self-harm messages in kids' videos.
These trends are “part of a moral panic, fueled by parents’ fears in wanting to know what their kids are up to,” Benjamin Radford, a folklorist and research fellow at the Committee for Skeptic Inquiry, told Rolling Stone. And spreading them can actually end up causing harm. “These stories being highly publicized, and starting a panic means vulnerable people get to know about it and that creates a risk,” the U.K.-based suicide-awareness charity Samaritans told The Guardian. Some kids can also end up hurting themselves by participating in the trend ironically.
Momo Is Not Trying to Kill Children [Taylor Lorenz/The Atlantic]
When Rivers Were Trails is a "Native-themed decision-based RPG" based on the classic Apple ][+ game "Oregon Trail," in which you play an 1890 Anishinaabeg person who has been forced off your land in Fond du Lac, Minnesota and must migrate through the northwest to California.
You've got one week to vote in the Children's History Book Prize, whose nominees this year include Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages -- the third book in the Gordon Family Saga, which includes 2009's incomparable White Sands, Red Menace, a book that like a genderswapped, woke Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, with extra helpings […]
Children who end up caught in Chicago's policing and justice system are being outfitted with ReliAlert XC3 GPS ankle-cuffs supplied by the Track Group, who use them to log children's movements and to bark orders at them, as well as listening in on them. The children have to wear them 24/7 while on bail awaiting […]
Are you super organized? You’re going to love the Genius Pack G4 and its seemingly limitless, well-placed compartments. Not that organized? You’re still going to love this piece of luggage because it’s so well thought out that it practically does the packing for you. We’ve all tried to stuff a piece of carry-on so full […]
If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re not just hungry for success. You’re hungry for knowledge, the insights that can lead to bigger and better ideas and ways to implement them. That knowledge is out there in the bestselling biz books that have changed the game over the years. There’s just one problem: In a fast-paced lifestyle, […]
Countless research studies have proven what is incredibly obvious to anyone who has a favorite song: Music can have a profound effect on our mood. So why not put that science to work for more than just de-stressing your commute? That’s the idea behind the Humm.ly Music Therapy App, a new tool that aims to […]