Momo: a lack of connection

A parent’s take on the negative effects of technology on parent-child relationships

Lilit Sedrakyan, Associate News Editor

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When my 10-year-old boy came from school very scared and started to tell me about “Momo,” I thought he was acting. I assumed that this was another stunt to get me to leave him alone with my endless lectures. However, when I noticed that he was really scared and was afraid to stay in his room alone, I started to worry. As I found out from his words, he hadn’t even seen Momo on YouTube. His classmate told him that there is a scary creature that pops up on YouTube videos, hypnotizes, and makes kids harm or kill themselves. My son’s friend had shared what his mother had told him.

For several days, I was reading everything about Momo, trying to find out if it was a hoax or a real threat to my kids. My continuous research looped back to the same points. In the viral internet culture, Momo, which originally began as a piece of Japanese art, was a scary half-woman and half-bird creature that has been frightening kids. Parents were cautioned that this viral Momo character can give dangerous tasks and instructions on how to do “bad things,” including committing suicide. It appears that bad people tapping into fears used Momo to create apprehension in children, which translated into concern of parents.

It was recently announced that Momo is “dead,” as the creator of the sculpture destroyed it. This put me at ease, however, something still disturbed me. It wasn’t Momo that had been stuck in my head during this time, but how deeply technology has invaded our interpersonal connections, extruding all “traditional” communication. Bored internet forum users encouraged the creation of fear in children — many of whom were too afraid to even tell their parents about what was going on. Do we really know what our kids are doing on their phones?

Parents should limit screen time, as indicated in recent studies. Consider a 2018 study from Common Sense Media and a Survey Monkey Poll that found 47 percent of parents are concerned their children are addicted to their smart devices.

The real threat isn’t Momo. It’s hidden in estrangement, when kids lose connections with parents and one another. Even worse, they lose the need to communicate in natural modes. Today it’s Momo, yesterday it was the Blue Whale Challenge, tomorrow it can be the negative influence of drugs and alcohol. There’s a common theme that we need to tap into, and that’s keeping in touch.

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