If you know who Peppa Pig is, you’re obviously a parent of a pre-school child. If you know who Momo is, you’re obviously a concerned parent of children who may have heard about the alleged bizarre suicide challenge associated with this equally bizarre character. If you know that Momo has infiltrated Peppa Pig videos, you’re obviously the parent of a child at a primary school in England who has been warned by school officials that your child may be watching videos and receiving instructions to turn on the gas in the house or perform some other destructive act. Whatever happened to fun and harmless cartoons like Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs Bunny while singing “Kill da wabbit!”? Never mind.
We have become increasingly aware of highly inappropriate videos circulating online and are being viewed by children across the school. These video clips are appearing on many social media sites and YouTube (including Kids YouTube). One of the videos starts innocently, like the start of a Peppa Pig episode for example, but quickly turn into an altered version with violence and offensive language.
Another video clip is going by the name of 'MoMo' which shows a warped white mask which is promoting children to do dangerous tasks without telling their parents. Examples we have noticed in school include asking the children to turn the gas on or to find and take tablets.
As you can imagine, this is highly distressing for the children to view. We encourage you to be vigilant when your child is using any device or watching any clips. We would also encourage all parents/carers to remind the children of our school online rules:
KS1: If it upsets you, switch off the screen and tell an adult.
KS2: Save it, block it, report it.
If you have any concerns or questions, please speak to your child's class teacher.
The Manchester Evening News reports that the above message was posted on the Facebook page of Haslingden Primary School in Rossendale, Lancashire, after a concerned parent in Bolton south of Lancashire reported that her son’s teacher told her the boy was threatening other students. When confronted, the boy blamed Momo, who had told him to tell other students that Momo was coming after them too. Soon after the news hit, Northcott Community Special School in Hull issued a similar warning, as did other schools in the UK. Another child reportedly cut some of her hair off after watching a Momo video. (You can see the video here ... if you dare.) There’s no word on whether YouTube or the makers of Peppa Pig have any comments.
Why the building hysteria? If you recall, the Momo suicide challenge was blamed for the death by hanging of a 12-year-old girl in Argentina in 2018. The figure itself is a sculpture created by Japanese doll artist Midori Hayashi for the special effects company, which has no connection to the Momo challenge. While the furor seemed to die down later in the year, it looks like it’s back again with a younger target audience, at least in the UK. Experts say the most sinister aspect of the meme is not the instructions to kill or self-harm but that fact that whoever wrote the app is collecting data on the user.
Why isn’t this latest Momo/Peppa Pig hysteria permeating the always susceptible parents in the U.S.? It could be that they’re more concerned about Peppa Pig, which is being blamed for teaching young American kids to speak with a British accent. Really!
If you’re concerned about Momo, talk to your kids, monitor their phone and computer usage, get to know their friends, talk to their teachers and be a parent.
If you’re concerned about Peppa Pig, you probably don’t want your kids watching Pepe Le Pew either.