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School Chief Warns ‘Momo Challenge’ Is An Online Hoax

Mar 02, 2019 07:15PM ● By Lisa Redmond

Dracut School Superintendent of Schools Steven Stone.

DRACUT – School Superintendent Steven Stone has sent a letter to Dracut parents and guardians warning them of an online viral hoax called the “Momo Challenge,’’ that allegedly encourages children to participate in risky or self-injurious behavior. In the March 2 letter that was posted on social media and the Dracut Police Department, Stone states, “A number of news stories over the past few days have confirmed that this (Momo Challenge) is a viral hoax.’’

The so-called Momo Challenge is allegedly an online game, in which children are contacted through WhatsApp, YouTube Kids or other social media sites. The challenge encourages children to participate in potentially harmful behavior, post videos of the behavior online, and not to tell adults.

The Momo character, a scary looking fictional character, is similar to the 2014 Slender Man story, an urban myth started and spread on the internet. However, reports, that the Momo Challenge is a hoax, while the Slender Man led two girls stabbing their friend to appease this online character. The letter provides several links to stories, one by The Atlantic and another reported by WCVB. com of stories that confirm this challenge is a hoax. So far, the origin of the exact site is a mystery, but the challenge reportedly started in Buenos Aires where the police suspect the challenge may have played a part in the suicide off a 12-year-old girl, but no link has been confirmed.

While the Momo Challenge is a hoax, Stone told parents it is advisable to “actively’’ monitor and manage the online and social media access of their children. “Every day principals at all levels are forced to address online and social media interactions between students that are hurtful, harmful and inappropriate,’’ he wrote.

Parents are “highly encouraged’’ to become familiar with all of the apps that are contained on the phones and computers of their children, and to spend some time researching how those apps work, he wrote. Many apps are designed specifically to help children and teens hide what they are doing from their parents and others.

Stone added that parents are encouraged to investigate the use of apps and internet provider parental control settings that can monitor and limit the use of a particular app or an entire phone or tablet, by locking apps and/or devices during hours when children should be doing homework or sleeping.

Anyone with any questions was encouraged to contact the school principal.

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