(FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - Police are warning parents about an internet game that's resurfaced, which urges users to commit suicide. It's called the 'Momo' Challenge.
'Momo' is a game where the controller encourages children to harm themselves after sending them violent messages via social media or messaging apps. If they do not comply, they are apparently threatened.
“It’s like an ad of a scary movie that would pop on something,” said Jessica Whitley. “It’s just creepy.”
Reports of the game first surfaced in the summer of 2018, but some parents say this is the first they are hearing about it. Part of the reason why is that the game tells kids if they inform their parents about it, harm could be inflicted on them or their parents.
The extremely disturbing avatar was created by a Japanese artist with no connection to the game.
'Momo' started on Facebook and involves members who are challenged to communicate with an unknown member. The game has reportedly been linked to the death of a girl in Argentina.
The 'Momo' game has been reported in the United States, Mexico, Argentina, France, and Germany.
Since its emergence last year, "Momo" has been widely branded a hoax, but parents have remained concerned.
Bessemer City mom Nikki Lanier is worried about her seven-year-old daughter. “We went to go to bed last night to watch it and she was actually scared to lay down.” She says the Momo challenge has not popped up on her daughter’s phone, but it was the talk of Wednesday night’s church group.
Jessica Whitley is a mom of five boys in Rock Hill. She says her sons did not hear about the Momo challenge until she asked. “Even my sixteen-year-old when I brought it up to him he didn’t know about it but he typed it in himself and of course he got all these questions about it.”
She believes all the exposure and parents worry about Momo is affecting kids. She also believes a smart kid would not follow the challenge: “That’s like if someone said you gonna jump off a bridge because someone else hollers, ‘Hey, we gonna go jump off a bridge,’ it’s not follow the leader.”
Lanier thinks otherwise: “Children are gonna do it. They are going to watch these cartoons and it’s going to pop up on them.”
One thing both moms agree on it is that the Momo challenge needs to be taken down by the sites it threatens. “I think with the technology they will be able to do something about it,” said Whitley.
“Of course, first of all, it shouldn’t be on there but somebody needs to get it off,” said Lanier.
YouTube’s full statement: “Our Community Guidelines prohibit harmful and dangerous challenges, including promoting the Momo challenge, and we remove this content quickly when flagged to us.”
YouTube also said they have not had any links sent to them that violate their standards by showing the Momo Challenge.
Read Facebook/WhatsApp's full statement:
"We care about the safety of our community and want to provide assistance for people in distress. As outlined in our Community Standards, we don't allow the promotion of self-injury or suicide and will remove it when reported to us. We also provide people who have expressed suicidal thoughts, and people who want to reach out to a friend who may be struggling, with a number of support options and resources. These global tools and resources were developed with the help of over 70 mental health partners around the world and we’re continuously improving them to build a safer and more supportive community on Facebook.”
The Mecklenburg PTA Council Board Members shared advice how parents can talk to students about the challenge:
“We encourage parents and caregivers to remain engaged and vigilant at all times regarding the online content that children have access to. The PTA’s position statement on Mass Media provides important context in these matters. “A founding purpose of the National PTA is to promote safety for children and youth by working to set a standard for the care and protection of children and youth. National PTA realizes the technological advances that have an impact on the welfare of children and their families.”
The same statement also “[u]rges parents to be involved with, and monitor the television programs, movies, interactive video games, concerts, music, and print materials their children select.
As parents ourselves, we are grateful for the National PTA for providing family resources specific to digital safety. There are a wealth of resources at pta.org including ways to start a conversation with kids about internet safety, digital literacy resources, and recommendations for local PTAs to engage and support parents in these crucial conversations. Parents and caregivers can access this information - and much more at www.pta.org/home/programs/connected.”
The Meck PTA represents over 100 local PTA member units and advocate for the education and well-being of children.
This story was reported on from Charlotte, N.C. Fox News contributed to this report. This story was updated to reflect conflicting reports about the Momo Challenge.