MOMO Game Update from Darlington Safer Internet Partnership
Just a quick update on this game, please share the information on your webpages etc. to support parents and carers helping their children stay safe online, we know from our most recent healthy Lifestyle Survey data that the use of the internet and online gaming has grown again for primary aged children and continues to develop and change rapidly.
Some of you may of heard about the MoMo Game as it has featured in a number of newspapers in recent weeks and we have had reports about parents having issues with primary age children getting very upset after coming into contact with MoMo images online.
What is it?
MoMo Game apparently began on Facebook and has now spread to YouTube and WhatsApp. It involves users receiving a message from an unknown source who challenges the recipient to complete various dares and orders which are gruesome, cruel and violent in nature. The final challenge apparently demands the user to commit suicide and the MoMo Game is currently being linked to the suicide of a 12 year old girl in Argentina.
The controller of the game uses the attached image of a women who is half bird an half human as there avatar. It’s this image which that we’ve been told has led to primary aged children becoming scared and upset. The image is taken from a sculpture that was designed for a Japanese Horror Art exhibition.
The trouble with the MoMo game is like Slenderman, killer clowns and the Blue Whale game it looks like it’s becoming a modern day urban tale/myth. There is very little evidence that people are playing it as it’s being reported in the press. What appears to be happening though is children and young people are sharing images about it and stories that they think are real and it’s having a negative impact upon some of them. YouTube now has a number of MoMo themed games/videos as well that involve jump scares and disturbing images that I imagine will spread it further and lead to sleepless nights for those scared by it.
What can we do about it?
Awareness is key so we can support children and young people who come across it and are upset or disturbed by it. Pointing out it’s not real and encouraging parents and carers especially those of primary aged children to have appropriate controls and checks in place to prevent access to such material.
Internet Matters is an excellent website for parents around internet safety. It offers lots of practical advice. You can visit the website by clicking here.
You may have heard of Musical.ly (think of it as a kind of karaoke platform). TikTok is the new name for the expanded version of the app, which enables users to upload, watch and create short videos of between three and 60 seconds. Here’s what you need to know:
From musical.ly to TikTok:
What exactly is TikTok?
Here’s one example of how special effects are used, in the Rain Control Challenge.
How TikTok works:
As part of Darlington Internet Safety Partnerships (DISP) parental control Christmas campaign here is some information on the video games expected to be the best selling this Christmas. All of the games in this list are also games found in the most popular bundles when you buy a console as well and some of them are really not suitable for children especially primary aged children.
Yet we’ve heard many, telling us that their getting these games for Christmas. While ultimately it us up to parents/ carers if they think a game is suitable for their children or not, care does need to be taken. Age ratings are on the box for a reason and a little research is recommended.
This information is now also on the DISP Website www.darlington.gov.uk/DISP
Call of Duty, Modern Warfare. Pegi rating 18. The brand new Call of Duty game from the popular series that’s often referred to as COD. Features a graphically impressive campaign that’s not for the fainthearted. This first- person shooter see’s you fighting terrorists on the streets of London and fighting alongside a local militia in a fictional middle eastern country. The game also has a ton of online multi-player options. I’ve played the game and while I can recommend this to fans of the series I would strongly recommend that no one buys this for their children. This is an 18 years rated game and the campaign is brutal depicting many horrors of modern conflict and terror such as gas attacks and civilian causalities (including women and children). It’s 18 for a reason and a very realistic looking game.
FIFA 20, Pegi rating 3 – The popular football series returns for another year and not much to say really it’s football and if you like football then you will probably love it. The game features a host of features and game modes including online play. The game is rated for ages 3 and up and while the content in general is suitable for all ages care needs to be taken especially if playing online. The average age of an online gamer is around 36 years of age so don’t always expect your child to be playing with children their own age. Another thing to watch out for is in game purchases as it is possible to spend real money on building that dream team you’ve always wanted. Make sure your consoles are set up with parental controls to prevent unwanted purchases being made.
Star Wars, Jedi Fallen Order, Pegi rating 16. Hey it’s Star Wars and kids of all ages love Star Wars . This game is going to sell loads this Christmas especially as there is a new movie coming out as well. This game is also packaged with a lot of console bundles this Christmas. While Star Wars has always been popular with children for the past 4 decades please note the age rating of 16 years and up. The game is a single player game and while it lacks the blood and gore of many games it’s still features a lot of violent content. The game is also pretty difficult to play so if you buy this for a young child expect them to become frustrated and lose interest as it features very challenging combat and game physics.
Red Dead Redemption 2, Pegi rating 18. While not a new game (it was released in 2018) this will still sell loads this Christmas and it’s another game that is often included in bundles when you buy a console. Red Dead is from the same team Rockstar Games who also make the popular but not suitable for children Grand Theft Auto series. Set in Americas wild west in 1899 you play as outlaw Arthur Morgan a member of a notorious gang of killers and thieves. While not as controversial as the GTA series this game still features a great deal of violence, bad language and adult themes throughout. Again definitely not suitable at all for primary aged children.
Fortnite, Pegi rating 12. If you have not heard of Fortnite yet then where have you been hiding? Fortnite has been a huge success and its popularity with primary aged children doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon. One of the reasons it’s become so popular is because the Battle Royal game is free to download and play. This may sound like a parents/carers dream a free game but be warned as the game contains a large number of in game purchases. Using the in game currency called VBucks which you use real money to purchase you can buy countless cosmetic items called skins and celebration animations and dances. We have known children run up bills of hundreds of pounds without permission. Again parental controls are a must and can easily prevent unwanted spending.
As for the gameplay the idea is to be the last man standing and eliminate 99 other players. While the idea is to kill your opponents the game is very cartoon like to look at and doesn’t feature any blood or gore. The game doesn’t have bad language in it but you can expect other players to use it during in game chat. This can be heard when using a headset or through the TV. In game chat can be disabled and caution must also be used as not everyone your child will be playing with will be around their own age.
We have experienced children as young as 7 years of age playing with strangers much older than them who have gone on to ask the child for personal details such as address in return for the promise of free VBucks. Fortnite is another popular game bundle with consoles and its popular as it often comes with bundled VBucks.
Another popular game bundle this year is the Xbox 0ne Gears 5 and Rage 2 bundle. The bundle offers great value for money and can also be purchased with headset as well. While it’s tempting to go for a great deal caution must be used as both games are rated 18 and feature violent game play with blood and gore and adult themes throughout.
Nintendo Switch Console bundles – Purchasing Switch bundles is a little bit easier as Nintendo is famous for its family suitable games some of which are fantastic, imaginative and fun to play. Again we recommend you research the games on offer as you can still play 16 and 18 rated games on the Switch but the most common bundles offer great suitable games for all ages. Popular bundles this year include Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Pokémon Sword and Shield. Fortnite bundles can also be purchased but in game chat on the Switch is not as easily done as it is with the Xbox and PS4.
Whatever bundles or games you decide on this Christmas remember to set up parental controls and research any purchases you plan to make.
Following on from the influx of consoles and games received for Xmas, regular stories in the news etc.
The Royal Society for Public Health have released a report and video looking at the issues around gaming, gambling and loot boxes, the report can be found here:
the video to accompany can be found here:
The PSHE Association have released some resources and support about delivering gambling in the curriculum. We will use aspects of these in school but they re useful for parents to look at:
This week, TikTok has unveiled new family safety features. These will allow parents and carers to link their account, to their child’s and restrict what content they can see, limit or remove private messaging and set time limits on the app.
The team have uploaded and article and more information to the DISP website.