One particular e-safety story that has been in the news this week is also on our radar. Images of a character called Momo have been shared, alongside a ‘challenge’ that has allegedly been promoted to children and young people via a number of social media channels. The story seems to have been that challenges made by Momo are followed up with threats if children do not comply. Having done some research myself, even without the spectre of a nasty challenge the related images are scary, and possibly disturbing, for children.
Andrea Ledsom told the House of Commons this week: “In the case of Momo, organisations including the Samaritans, the NSPCC and the Safer Internet Centre have said there is no confirmed evidence the Momo phenomenon is posing a threat to British children.”
A Samaritans spokesperson has also stated: “These stories being highly publicised and starting a panic means vulnerable people get to know about it and that creates a risk… What’s more important is parents and people who work with children concentrate on broad online safety guidelines.”
The best advice we can offer to parents is not to talk about these stories or show their children the pictures – after all, why would you deliberately do something that will only upset them? It is far better to discuss in a general way how to deal with upsetting or worrying content that may be encountered, encouraging them to talk to a trusted adult.
Another sensible step is to ensure that the controls on all of the devices your children have access to are in place, and that you are aware and taking a real and regular interest in what they are doing online.
The advice given by Karl Hopwood on Monday evening was excellent, and we have included several other useful links for parents with this week’s newsletter.