A warning has gone out to parents in the Crawley area over a sinister new online challenge that is terrifying children across the district.
The ‘Momo Challenge’ features a scary-looking doll which sends creepy images spliced into YouTube videos and instructs them to take part in dangerous ‘challenges’.
The sinister videos - which have been linked to self-harm among youngsters - have sparked concerns among parents and techers. Schools throughout the Crawley area, and elsewhere in Sussex, sent out an alert to parents yesterday.
One worried mum said that her 12-year-old daughter told her that boys at her school had shown classmates frightening pictures - one purporting to show a boy who had killed himself less than an hour earlier as a result of the challenge.
The youngster thought the sick challenge had been started by people based locally, possibly in Brighton. “She was scared that meant they could come to your home and hurt you,” said the mum.
“She found the image of the freaky ‘doll’ terrifying and was very frightened at bedtime, saying she was scared the face would look in through her bedroom window at her if she looked through the curtains. She said she couldn’t get the image out of her head.
“My ten-year-old son also knew about Momo, and said he had seen pictures of the ‘doll’ shared by his supposedly child-friendly YouTubers.
“I spoke to them both and tried to reassure them, and to tell them they mustn’t respond if anyone contacted them or tried to pressure them into taking part in any sort of challenge or prank.”
She said her daughter had now removed the WhatsApp app from her phone because she was scared she would get Momo messages through that.
She added: “It’s very worrying as a parent to know that this stuff is out there, and that it’s frightening my kids.”
Parents are being urged to report to police any content online they think is suspicious, and to talk to their children about the phenomenon, explaining that it is not real.
According to the guidance, the ‘Momo’ face is from a sculpture that featured in an art gallery in Tokyo and has been appropriated for the online challenge.