Parents are being encouraged to keep a watch their children’s online activities after fears were raised by two schools over the Momo Challenge ‘hoax’.
There are concerns youngsters are being targeted by Momo - a dark-haired figure with bulging eyes which is actually a piece of Japanese art work – while they’re watching videos on sites such as YouTube.
It’s claimed that ‘Momo’ encourages youngsters to self-harm or put themselves in dangerous situations by carrying out a series of tasks.
Momo communicates with the child by interrupting the video they are watching - Footage of Peppa Pig and popular games such as Fortnight have allegedly been targeted.
However, there’s also speculation that Momo is simply a hoax which has now caused a moral panic and continues to grow as more people become aware of the hype.
Bosses at South Tyneside Council say they aren’t taking any risks.
They are now working with safeguarding partners to provide parents with accurate and up-to-date advice surrounding Momo.
A spokesman for the council said: “We are aware of this issue and are working with all our safeguarding partners to provide accurate and up-to-date advice for parents.
“We would always encourage parents and carers to follow internet safety advice and be aware of what their children do online.
“Advice can be found at saferinternet.org.uk”
A number of schools in the area, including Boldon School in New Road, Boldon Colliery, and Cleadon Academy in Boldon Lane, Cleadon, have also posted advice for parents to read on their Facebook sites.
It’s understood news of Momo first broke in July 2018, when a 12-year-old girl in Argentina was rumoured to have died by suicide because of threatening messages, however no authorities actually linked her death to the challenge.
It then spread to the UK when a post was allegedly put in a local Facebook page by a mum saying her three children cried after being told Momo was going to kill them in their beds.
The Samaritans charity has also dismissed reports about Momo, while warning of the risks of the hysteria surrounding it.
A spokesman said: “These stories being highly publicised and starting a panic means vulnerable people get to know about it and that creates a risk.”
“Currently we’re not aware of any verified evidence in this country or beyond linking Momo to suicide.”