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The 'Momo challenge' isn't real, but the concerns it raised are

While the Momo challenge is something of an urban legend for the internet age (it's basically the "Teens are eating Tide pods" of 2019), it's understandable why parents were quick to share warnings.

The 'Momo challenge' isn't real, but the concerns it raised are

The internet is an amazing thing. It changed life as we know it and lets us work and communicate more efficiently. It puts the world in our pockets, but it can also put the whole wide world into the palms of very little hands—and that can be scary.

Parents were freaked out this week when news about a supposed viral trend called the "Momo challenge" spread through news reports. The premise is pretty scary: A social media-based dare game that is encouraging kids to harm themselves and even attempt suicide. But as the Atlantic and CNN pointed out, it's not real.

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As David Mikkelson, the founder of Snopes.com told CNN, kids are not actually doing harm to themselves or others thanks to Momo (which is actually a Japanese sculpture called Mother Bird) popping up on YouTube and WhatsApp. "That claim appears to be fear-driven exaggeration lacking in supportive evidence," Mikkelson says.

The Momo challenge is not so much a hoax as it is a symptom of internet aggregation culture and the very real fears parents deal with in this digitally connected world.

While the Momo challenge is something of an urban legend for the internet age (it's basically the "Teens are eating Tide pods" of 2019), it's understandable why parents were quick to share warnings.

It's not like bad actors aren't popping up in kids YouTube videos with inappropriate messages encouraging suicide. That's an unfortunately verifiable phenomenon, and YouTube is disabling comments on millions of videos featuring children after Wired reported on how the comments sections "appear to show pedophiles sharing timestamps for parts of the videos where exposed genitals can be seen, or when a child does the splits or lifts up their top to show their nipples."

This Sunday NBC will air an interview with YouTube's CEO Susan Wojcicki on the subject. Wojcicki sat down with TODAY to discuss how YouTube is addressing recent safety concerns. "When we make changes to our policies we usually consult with experts, whether they are experts in child safety, experts in law enforcement, emergency room people, first responders, like understanding where's the best police to draw the line," she tells NBC's Willie Geist.

It's horrible that predators and people who think it's funny to surprise children with disturbing content use the internet this way, and it's also unfortunate that news sites perpetuated reports of the Momo challenge without evidence of its veracity.

But both trending topics serve to remind us of the double edge of the internet: While this technology brings us awesome things like the brand new Jonas Brothes video (yes, the boys are back together and Sophie, Priyanka and Danielle are all in the video!), it can also connect our kids to things we would rather they not see.

According to Common Sense Media (a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology), parents can act as "media mentors" by using the internet with their kids. Keep internet time safe by playing video games like Fortnite or Minecraft with your kids, and share your favorite YouTube videos.

By acting as something of a digital tour guide and audience, you can show your kids how to stay safe on the internet and learn more about what they are into while instilling safety lessons they will benefit from when they grow older and are eventually allowed unsupervised internet access.

The internet is going to be part of our kids' lives. We can't keep them from it, but we can teach them how to navigate it, and foster the kind of relationships that will have our kids turning to us (instead of the internet) during tough times.

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I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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Life

Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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Life