Netsafe has received reports relating to young people who have been exposed to a harmful online “game” known as the Momo Challenge. Although we have not received any reports of young people in New Zealand taking part in the “challenge”, we are aware that some young people have seen content relating to Momo and have been very upset by the content and imagery. There has also been talk about whether this “challenge” is real or a hoax. Regardless of whether the actual challenge itself exists, individuals who come across Momo related content may experience emotional distress at seeing it – particularly younger children.
Netsafe encourages anyone that comes across content relating to the Momo Challenge or other similar ‘challenge’ content to immediately report it to the social media site or website that it’s on. In New Zealand, it is against the law to incite another person to take their own life. If somebody is targeting a young person to play this “game”, or attempting to incite suicide, you should contact the Police and Netsafe for help, and a mental health service for support. Netsafe can also provide advice for any parents who are concerned about this challenge. If young people are expressing feelings about self-harm or suicide then this should be followed up with appropriate mental health support.
Netsafe’s advice for parents about exposure to upsetting content:
- Have a conversation with young people about what to do if they do come across upsetting content online
- Let your child know that they can come to you when they find something upsetting and they won’t get in trouble
- Stay calm if they do come to you – don’t assign blame, reassure them that it’s not their fault and don’t punish them for seeking help
- Normalise their feelings – let them know that it is normal to feel scared, confused or upset
- Don’t over-react by taking away the technology – this may make them less likely to talk to you if something else happens
- For young children in particular, consider using parental controls to block out specific keywords like “Momo”
- If you or your child comes across this type of content report it to the platform that it’s on
- If your child is expressing any concerning feelings, follow up with mental health support
- If you know that a young person has been engaging in this challenge, report it to the Police and Netsafe, and contact a mental health service for support.
For more advice about children viewing upsetting content online, visit our Upsetting Content page.
Need help or advice? Contact us.
- Text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call us toll free on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)
- Online report form at netsafe.org.nz/report
Our helpline is open from 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am – 5pm on weekends.
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Mental health support services:
Need to talk? – Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE).
Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email email@example.com or online chat.
Samaritans – 0800 726 666.