(CBS News) — Police and schools are issuing warnings to parents on social media after a popular WhatsApp challenge has resurfaced in the United Kingdom. The “Momo game” or “Momo challenge” gained international recognition last summer and was initially considered a hoax, quickly becoming a widespread meme. In August 2018, law enforcement investigated the influence of Momo on the death of a 12-year-old in Argentina, worrying parents globally to the potentially real dangers of the challenge.
When children participate in the challenge, they contact a stranger concealing themself as “Momo” using a creepy image and communicate primarily through the Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp. Momo encourages a participant to complete various tasks if they want to avoid being “cursed.” Some of the tasks include self harm, which Momo asks the participant to provide photographic evidence in order to continue the game. Ultimately, the game ends with Momo telling the participant to take their own life and record it for social media.
“A huge number of children are being exposed to suggestions about how to kill yourself. There is nothing funny about that. There’s nothing cute about that and it’s extraordinarily harmful,” Douglas Goldsmith, a licensed child psychologist, told CBS affiliate KUTV.