Parents Corner: Looking Back At The Frenzy Of The Momo Challenge

Adrienne Gibbs
5 min readAug 28, 2019
Child watching a television. Image provided by Vidmir Raic/Pixabay

My son was watching YouTube Kids when I got the first text message about the “Momo Challenge,” which is apparently the latest rejuvenation of a dirty, digital dare intended to convince children to hurt themselves or commit suicide.

I’d never heard of Momo before, but my kids are young and just now getting into YouTube and other digital offerings. The possibility of Momo appearing inside of an episode of, say — Peppa Pig — was a shock to my six-years-new-to-parenting ears. Most everyone I saw at school pickup, or on Facebook or at Scouts, had a neighbor or best friend who had interacted with the eerie smile and bug eyes of a Japanese sculpture named “Mother Bird” that has somehow become the “face” of this latest digital scare- or ghost story, depending upon whom you want to believe.

In recent days, Momo has made headlines around the world, even prompting some police departments to send alerts. However, through all of this, YouTube tells me it has no evidence of this challenge being spread specifically on YouTube Kids and further, the streaming giant tells me the content has not been found on YouTube kids. In fact, a YouTube spokesperson encouraged me to submit a screenshot, a link or a video of a video where Momo — and not a news story or a warning to stay away from Momo — was found on the kids version of its…

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Adrienne Gibbs

Director of Content @Medium. Award-winning journalist. Featured in a Beyoncé reel. Before now? EBONY, Netflix, Sun-Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe.