WETHERSFIELD, CT (WFSB) - Disturbing messages are being hidden inside children’s videos.
You may have heard of the “Momo Challenge.”
From WhatsApp to Facebook to even YouTube Kids, authorities say there could be suicide instructions targeting your children.
The disturbing content is unexpected and uncalled for.
It’s targeting innocent children who’re just trying to have a little fun on the internet.
Screen time is limited to the weekends at Sidra Awan’s home.
“They have these road blocks games they like to play,” said Awan.
She has three children and each of them has their own iPad.
“They don’t have any sort of open way of using the internet where they’re completely doing something I don’t know because I feel like I have to keep an eye on it as a parent,” said Awan.
Now more than ever, authorities say parents need to monitor technology.
A character named Momo is apparently popping up in videos on YouTube Kids, like the insanely popular Peppa Pig.
The message is even more grotesque, giving children instructions on self-harm and suicide.
Channel 3 sat down with child psychologist Dr. Laura Saunders and the president of the police chief’s association.
“I’m disturbed. I feel disturbed that there’s people out there that really want to perpetuate evil and harm others puts me on high alert,” said Saunders.
“The child may take that for real and hurt themselves. Who would want that. What kind of a person would actually want to see a child get hurt. It’s beyond my comprehension,” said Chief James Cetran of Wethersfield Police Department.
There are reports of Momo enticing children in messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook.
Saunders says stay plugged in with other parents about explicit content and trends.
“There’s some acknowledgement that we’re always one step behind but it’s better to be one step behind than ten steps behind,” Saunders said.
Right now, there appears to be no cases of a child hurting him or herself in the U.S. as a result of the Momo challenge, but authorities say keep communication lines open with your children.
“I’ve had these talks with them where I sit down and explain to them that there are things out there that are either not good for you to watch or there could be people out there,” Awan said.
An internet safety expert says parents should be aware of what apps their children are using and for what purpose.
Other police departments and school districts are now sending out warnings about this throughout Connecticut.
Middletown police and Bristol Public Schools both issued messages to their communities on Wednesday.
They want parents to be on high alert for this disturbing online challenge.
Scott Driscoll, the president of Internet Safety Concepts shared some internet safety tips:
- Any social media site should be set to private.
- When we receive a follow request before we approve you should ask yourself who is this person and why are they so important I want to communicate with them.
- Parents should be aware of what apps children are using and why they’re using them.
- Parents should be communicating with the children about their technology use. If parents continue to communicate with their children hopefully children will communicate any concerns that arise through social media or technology.
- Research online stories for facts.