Plum School District warns parents of internet ‘Momo Challenge’
A social media challenge that is either a new form of cyber bullying or simply a hoax has prompted the Plum Borough School District to issue a warning about the “Momo Challenge,” which encourages students to commit dangerous and potentially violent acts.
The Momo Challenge uses text messages or social media for sending students anonymous messages from an imaginary character named Momo. It invites students to participate in a series of dares or self-harm and threatens violence if the challenges are not completed, according to the message sent Friday by Plum administrators Rick A. Walsh, assistant superintendent for kindergarten through eighth grade and safety and security coordinator, and Daniel Lauletta, technology and innovation director.
The Momo Challenge plays out on various forms of social media, including Facebook; WhatsApp, which is a free messaging app that can block the identity of the sender; or gaming applications, the administrators said.
The Momo Challenge encourages students to hurt others and themselves and eventually kill themselves, according to a website, EducateEmpowerKids.org. But, other stories from the national news media say it is a hoax and it probably is not something parents should worry about.
The National Online Safety website calls Momo a “sinister challenge” that has been around for a long time, but has resurfaced to the extent it has come to the attention of schools and children nationwide. The website said that some children’s videos are being hijacked in this Momo Challenge. The website also encourages parents to tell their children that the character is not real.
The Plum school district has blocked searches for the Momo Challenge and related content on school computers, laptops, and tablets, although students still may be able to access the sites through personal devices and accounts. Parents are asked to tell their children not to accept any messages or invitations from unknown numbers and never to click on unidentified links they may be sent.
The district has a website regarding internet safety and is accessible at https://www.pbsd.net/InternetSafetyandSecurity.aspx>
For more information pertaining to student online safety, contact Lauletta at [email protected]
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .