Belfast Telegraph

PSNI working with other police services to combat threat of Momo challenge game

Police have warned parents of the dangers of the Momo Challenge.
Police have warned parents of the dangers of the Momo Challenge.

The PSNI have revealed that they are liaising with other UK Police Services to deal with the threat of the "momo challenge" to children in Northern Ireland.

At the weekend police revealed that they were worried that the game, which encourages users to cause themselves harm, and in some cases led to suicide, is "targeting" Northern Ireland children.

Detective Sergeant Elaine McCormill from the PSNI's Public Protection Branch said that while police have received no official reports reloading to the challenge, they were working with other UK Police Services to identify the extent of the problem.

Has your child come into contact with the "Momo challenge"? Contact us at digital.editorial@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Police said that the "extremely disturbing challenge" conceals itself within other harmless looking games or videos played by children and when downloaded, it asks the user to communicate with “Momo” via popular messaging applications such as WhatsApp.

It is at this point that children are threatened that they will be cursed or their family will be hurt if they do not self-harm. 

Reports in Europe and around the world have linked the game to suicides of young children.

There have been numerous reports on social media of people from across Northern Ireland seeing the character pop up while their children played a game or watched a video.

Detective Sergeant McCormill said that she was "disgusted" that the game was targeting young children in Northern Ireland.

"I would encourage parents to know what your children are looking at and who they are talking to. Whilst the threat of a curse may sound silly to an adult, it could be a very frightening prospect for a young child and they may feel under pressure to carry out acts to protect themselves or family from further harm," she said.

"The most fundamental piece of advice that I can offer is to speak with your children – let them know that they do not have to deal with any concerns on their own. It is crucial that parents are involved with their children’s online lives and I’d urge parents to make children aware of online dangers and ensure they know that they can speak to someone if anything or anyone online causes them concern."

Detective Sergeant McCormill stressed to parents that any device used by children should be restricted to age suitable content, however she acknowledged media reports that the challenge had been viewed by children even with the restrictions in place.

"There really is no substitution for supervising the games that children are playing and the videos that they watch online," she said.

“I would encourage anyone who has been a victim of the “Momo” challenge to contact Police on 101 or of course, 999 in an emergency so that we can examine the device, gather information and investigate the incident.

"A wealth of information and support is also available online, including on the following sites:

www.ceop.police.uk/safety-centre

www.getsafeonline.org

www.thinkyouknow.co.uk.”

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