Over the last week, information has been rapidly being shared via Internet websites and social media about a scary trend called the “Momo Challenge.” Much of the information presented is not based on facts, but driven out of fear.
Moments like these are great opportunities to open the lines of communications with your children and have discussions with them as they use digital technologies. We should tell our children that if anyone ever asks them to do something they know to be wrong, or threatens to harm them, or anyone close to them, they should immediately turn off their device, and go tell a parent or another trusted adult. As this article explains, there are many Internet-based challenges that children can be drawn into. Some of them are innocent. Others, can create negative situations. But in every case, parents should talk to kids about what they should do, based on the beliefs of their family, before they are faced with these challenges.
We need to encourage our children to be excellent digital citizens by never posting or sharing private information about themselves, never communicating with or friending people they don’t know, and avoiding saying anything online they wouldn’t say to a person face-to-face. We need to remind them to immediately come talk to a parent or trusted adult if they’ve done something online that they are ashamed of, especially if someone is trying to use it as leverage to get them to do something else. A final good rule of thumb is for children to ask themselves if they would click that link or say that online if a parent or trusted adult was standing behind them. If they can’t answer “yes” to that question, then they shouldn’t do it.