District warns of dangers of social media ‘challenges’
MT. PLEASANT—The North Sanpete School District (NSSD) is advising parents to be aware of a social media “challenge” that attempts to manipulate children into questionable acts through threats and bullying.
In a warning sent to parents on Monday, Jan. 14, the NSSD said the “Momo Challenge” was a malicious scam that targets children through video games, social media, WhatsApp and other online software. According to the warning, the challenge has already been linked to at least one suicide.
The Momo Challenge communications begin with a chat message asking a youth to perform a small task, which gravitates to more problematic tasks such as self-inflicted harm.
The Momo Challenge instigator (often portrayed with a grotesque avatar) asks for photos to prove the task has been completed.
If children or teens refuse to perform the tasks, the online avatar threatens to leak personal information, leaves disturbing messages, makes threats and sends violent images.
“We strongly encourage parents and guardians to have conversations with their children, as we are currently engaged with our teachers, counselors and administrators,” the notice from the district states.
“We encourage parents and guardians to remain highly engaged in monitoring their children’s use of social media, websites and video games for material that could be harmful to kids.”