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The Momo Challenge quickly spread through the Internet in July of 2018, starting with a single Reddit post of the haunting image, but its origin came long before the post. At its simplest, “Momo” is a sculpture created by the Japanese artist Keisuke Aiso that was featured in a Japanese art gallery in 2016. Currently, the picture of Momo is circulating the Internet on apps like WhatsApp and Twitter with an urban legend story attached.
This story is similar to that of Slenderman, as both Internet trends scare viewers into believing that if they do not follow the instructions given to them by the characters, repercussions will follow. Many do not need to worry about the harm that these characters can create because they know better than to believe a story from a fake character, but the problem lies at the feet of young viewers. While nothing has been confirmed, there have been rumors circulating the Internet that the image of Momo has popped up in the middle of videos on YouTube Kids. Parents have been warned to carefully monitor the videos that their children watch to make sure Momo will not show up. Even celebrities have participated in conversations about the Momo Challenge. Kim Kardashian, a mother of three, went on Instagram to warn other parents about the potential dangers of YouTube Kids and tagged YouTube’s official Instagram for help on deleting the dangerous videos.
The sudden attention that spread through apps like Instagram and Twitter after the image of Momo was posted is part of the reason why so much panic surrounds the image. The sculpture of Momo is creepy, but the made-up stories that surround the image are why so many people are afraid of it. Though not many people believe these stories, the idea that it could potentially harm people does not help people’s fears.
Ninth grader Teo Dieperink believes that spreading rumors about what Momo can do is the biggest problem.
“I don’t really get why everyone is saying that Momo is appearing in YouTube videos, it [Momo] is really just an image that people use to troll their friends. I think the reason why so many people are afraid of it is because of all the rumors,” Dieperink said.
Ninth grader Jake Therien agrees with people who are cautious of the image.
“I mean I don’t believe the person is real or that they will hurt me, but I get why so many people are so worried that it will cause harm. I’d probably be really worried if I was a parent and thought that the image of Momo could show up in the middle of my kid’s videos,” Therien said.