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Police Warn Parents About The Trending Suicide Game, The "Momo Challenge"

IT is described as a deadly suicide game sweeping the globe and has been blamed for the deaths of a string of youngsters, The Sun reported.

But is Momo a twisted challenge forcing teens to kill themselves or simply an urban myth cooked up by sick internet users?

The disturbing avatar for Momo was created by a Japanese effects company with no links to the online craze

The game itself centres around the disturbing image of a woman with grotesque features and bulging, black-ringed eyes.

Mobile phone numbers have appeared online asking internet users to add them on WhatsApp to play the game.

It has been linked to a series of reported suicides among youngsters across the globe in countries including Colombia, Argentina and India.

The deaths have caused widespread panic and a number of police forces have been so concerned they have issued warnings about the game.

Now, a raft of parents have come forward revealing how their own kids have been left in tears after being targeted by Momo.

One mum said her son had even been told to put a knife to his neck in one of the sick challenges, while a six-year-old was warned "I'm going to kill you" while watching a kids' gaming channel.

The creepy character has also started popping up on social media platforms including YouTube, Fortnite and Minecraft - with even Peppa Pig episodes used as a vessel to terrify youngsters.

Police in Mexico issued this warning about Momo

The Momo user is said to threaten targets, telling them to film the absurd tasks which often involve self-harm and ends with a demand that the player commits suicide or they will be cursed.

But analysis of the challenge online appears to reveal twisted mobile users, who are unconnected to each other, are setting up WhatsApp accounts with the Momo picture simply to spread the craze.

Dr Shahla Ghobadi, viral social media expert at the University of Manchester, said: "These games capture people's attention and can be seen as innovative but we need to direct these people to something more positive and stop them creating dangerous viral games."

The Momo image itself was originally a sculpture created by a Japanese special effects company called Link Factory and displayed in a Tokyo fetish museum in 2016.

A tourist poses with the sculpture called Mother Bird and used as the Momo image on a string of WhatsApp accounts

The woman's torso with bird legs - originally called Mother Bird - appears to have first featured online on a Japan-based Instagram account who posted the picture in August 2016.

Two years later in July of this year the image was once again shared by Facebook users - who are said to have started the sick challenge in a group - and on popular chat forum Reddit.

The avatar then spread on the Spanish-speaking web and became attached to a glut of mobile phone numbers using WhatsApp including several based in the US.

The Mother Bird sculpture which became the Momo image appeared to have been first posted online on Instagram in 2016

It can sometimes be hard to stand up to your friends, so Childline offers the following tips on how to say no:

If you don’t feel comfortable doing what your friends are doing, suggest something else to do.

Any child worried about peer pressure or online worries can contact Childline on 0800 1111.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116123

Last year, a 12-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy are said to have killed themselves after playing the Momo game on WhatsApp.

The tragic deaths took place within 48 hours of each other with police reportedly saying the pair's mobile phones had messages linked to the game.

Both the boy and girl are said to have known each other and lived in north-west Colombia where government ministers have blamed the Momo challenge for their deaths.

Several police forces around the globe have issued alerts about the game after it was linked to suicides.

Indian police have alerted people to the dangers of the online craze

They include cops in the US, Argentina, Mexico, Spain, Pakistan and India with fears over the game spreading panic.

The challenge has been likened to the Blue Whale viral craze from several years ago which set players up to 50 daily tasks involving self-mutilation and suicide.

Blue Whale reportedly led to 130 suicides in Russia where the challenge is believed to have originated.

In July last year, police in Buenos Aires, Argentina, said they were investigating whether a 12-year-old girl was encouraged to take her own life after messaging a Momo account number on WhatsApp.

The 18-year-old, named locally as Manish Sarki, was found dead in a livestock shed in Kurseong, India, in August

The youngster was said to have filmed the moments before killing herself while police hunted an 18-year-old with whom she had been speaking on WhatsApp.

And in August another death of an 18-year-old, Manish Sarki from northern India, was said to have been linked to the game by his mum.

Cops in Spain and Mexico have also warned people not to engage with numbers claiming to be Momo.

The Spanish Civil guard tweeted a warning saying "Don't add Momo!" while Mexican police published a pamphlet outlining the dangers of the game.

In India cops warned in Twitter: "Don't meddle with her. She is dangerous, dirty and disastrous to your life" as US cops told parents to speak to their children and alert them to the dangers.

However several reports online have told how mobile numbers often do not respond.

Our reporters messaged a string of WhatsApp accounts with US dial codes and Momo avatars.

We found some messages were undelivered on WhatsApp while others were read but did not receive any replies.

It has been reported many of the Momo country codes are linked to Japan, Colombia and Mexico while several were found to be US numbers.

Several reports have described how Momo accounts have failed to respond to messages

A number of Momo accounts have been set up on WhatsApp

Cops in India have posted a number of online warnings over Momo

Experts have warned the viral nature of Momo means it can quickly spread panic online as twisted internet users seize upon the craze to spread it further.

Dr Shahla Ghobadi, of the University of Manchester, added: "We have seen several examples of similar phenomenon - we see the Momo challenge through WhatsApp and a few years ago we saw the Blue Whale challenge which caused widespread concern and led to self harm and accounts of suicide, especially among teenagers.

"The nature of these things is that a percentage of the population will become compulsive, and not casual, users of online games.

"Can we have more education and more positive challenges to occupy young people? Government policy makers, scientists and researchers need to think how we can use this innovation positively."

And Carolyn Bunting, CEO of online child safety group Internet Matters, said: “The existence of online challenges such as Momo are clearly a matter for concern for parents.

"Our latest Back To School research found 7 out of 10 parents of Year 7 pupils are worried their children will be pushed into dangerous online crazes and challenges.

“While it is important not to panic and jump to conclusions without knowing all of the facts, it is also healthy for parents to sit down with their children and talk about all aspects of their online world.

“Myth or not - this reinforces the need for parents to be have regular, honest and open conversations about what their children are doing online and who they are talking to.”

In a previous statement on the issue WhatsApp has said it "cares deeply about the safety of our users".

A spokesman added: "It’s easy to block any phone number and we encourage users to report problematic messages to us so we can take action.”

A tourist poses with the sculpture called Mother Bird and used as the Momo image on a string of WhatsApp accounts

Via The Sun

My view: Playing Video Games Too Much Might Be Bad for Your Mental health. Violent and deadly video games can lead to anxiety, depression, increase in aggression and violence, and mess with your social life. Some people also can spend way too much time playing video games and can become addicted, putting games first in front of work or school and they don't care about spending time with friends and family. What's the point of playing video games that will profoundly mess with your head.?

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