DECATUR — Decatur School District officials are warning parents to "Monitor your children's online activity," posting a tweet about the "Momo Challenge," an internet hoax.
The tweet shared by Decatur schools is from National Online Safety, which based in Great Britain and strives to make the internet a safer place for children, according to its website.
By now you've probably seen a face of Momo — the thin bird-like face with bulging eyes and stringy hair — staring back at you from a computer screen. The creepy photo is usually accompanied by dire warnings of what's become known as the Momo Challenge.
The warning goes something like this:
"There is a thing called "Momo" that is instructing kids to kill themselves, turn stoves on while everyone is asleep and even threatening to kill the children if they tell their parents. It doesn't come on instantly so it's almost as if it waits for you to leave the room then it comes on mid show. It's been seen on Peppa Pig, LOL Doll, Surprise Eggs and a few more. Please pay attention! Inform everyone you can!"
The "challenge" according to reports, involves anonymous messages tied to Momo giving kids a variety of tasks that increasingly grow in danger. Failure to do the assigned tasks is met with threats.
While warnings of the Momo Challenge has circulated since July 2018, experts said it is nothing more than a hoax internet post that's being spread via Facebook, particularly the WhatsApp, and other social media sites. Much of what is circulating now, and what kids could be seeing, are copy cats inspired by the trend or hysteria spread by worried parents.
YouTube said it has found no evidence of Momo videos on its platform. If they did exist, they would be removed, YouTube, asking for the public's help to report any videos violating its regulations.
Snopes has debunked the rumor even more. You can see its findings here.
While the Momo Challenge may be a hoax, fear about Momo or the challenge itself are real. Parents are advised to talk to their kids about Momo and limit screen time.
The image of Momo itself is nothing more than a sculpture. According to The Atlantic, "Momo" -- actually named "Mother Bird" -- was created by the artist Keisuke Aisawa for the Japanese special-effects company Link Factory. It was first shown as part of a horror-art show in 2016 and photos spread online.
The Alabama Media Group contributed to this report.
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