Parents, teachers ask to monitor children's internet use against purported, suicidal "MOMO challenge" app --- PNP - BALITANG PINOY

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Parents, teachers ask to monitor children's internet use against purported, suicidal "MOMO challenge" app --- PNP

Manila---The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday issued warning to parents and teachers to closely monitor children against the purported "MOMO challenge" application that allegedly teaches kids to do self-harm that leads to suicidal.

"Sa ating mga magulang kailangan po siguro bantayan natin ang ating mga anak. Siguro ang kailangan dito is yung talagang magabayan ang mga anak lalo na kapag sila ay wala sa atin, nandun sa mga schools. At sa mga guro naman, isa na rin ito na isama nila yung tamang pagturo para maiwasan itong mga suicidal thinking ng ating mga kabataan or etong mga challenges na ginagawa through the internet," PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said in an ambush interview.

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Albayalde issued the warning amid reports of online danger from the so-called "Momo Challenge.

The game played for about 50 days on messaging app WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube allegedly encourages children and teenagers of ages 6 to 14 years old to do specific tasks, following challenges starting light like waking up in the middle of the night.

As the game progresses, the child will be tasked for more dangerous and violent challenges until it leads to self-harm and suicide.

The PNP chief further stated that encouragement of doing self-harm is a form of criminal act and can be held criminally liable.

"Remember, this is a crime lalung-lalo na kung ang bata ang ini-enganyo," Albayalde pointed out.

The alleged harmful reports was first brought up in other countries causing children to do harmful attacks to other people and ownself.

In the Philippines, incident of killing was also reported in Quezon City wherein a 6-year old child died in school doing the act of suicide.

The mother told in an interview that while her kid was in the ICU of the hospital, his son said "I will follow my master and I will kill them all."

Out of instigated curiousity, the mother knew that during exchange of messages of his son to his classmate and the search history in her phone, the two brought up topics of dark web and suicidal acts.

In another incident, the mother released a statement that same instance is happening to her child following the usage of alleged application.

"We did not stop probing him, to get an answer out of him... He finally confessed that it asked him to kill 10 people or it will hurt him. He was instructed not to tell to us because it was supposedly going to hurt us if he did," the mother said.

Meanwhile, Google has also released a statement in its homepage on the issue of the "Momo challenge" on behalf of its subsidiary Youtube, that encourages people to report any form of its content to fully safeguard the application exclusive for kids called the 'youtube kids' app.

"Many of you have shared your concerns with us over the past few days about the Momo Challenge--we’ve been paying close attention to these reports. After much review, we’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are clearly against our policies, the Momo challenge included. Despite press reports of this challenge surfacing, we haven’t had any recent links flagged or shared with us from YouTube that violate our Community Guidelines," Google statement on Thursday morning.

"It’s important to note that we do allow creators to discuss, report, or educate people on the Momo challenge/character on YouTube. We’ve seen screenshots of videos and/or thumbnails with this character in them. To clarify, it is not against our policies to include the image of the Momo character on YouTube; that being said, this image is not allowed on the YouTube Kids app and we’re putting safeguards in place to exclude it from content on YouTube Kids," it further stated.

YouTube Kids, developed by Youtube and released in 2015, was created "to make it safer and simpler" for kids to explore the world through online video was also embedded with whole suite of parental controls, that tailors the experience to family’s needs.

"If you see someone promoting any challenge with an inherent risk or harm, please flag it to us immediately," it further added.

Youtube, however has also made its statement on Twitter, Thursday morning with a condensed version of google's statement that goes: "We want to clear something up regarding the Momo Challenge: We’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies."

According to experts, the MOMO challenge app was first established in 2016 to a closely related game named Blue Whale challenge with the instruction of harming people and suicidal tasks.

The physical feature of the MOMO, which has a frightful appearance was came from a famous sculpture of museum in Japan.

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