Parents & communications expert weigh in on recent "Momo Challenge"

Posted at 8:17 AM, Mar 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-04 09:17:26-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — "I can't believe that someone would want to do that to children," Andrea Blake said.

Andrea Blake says she was horrified when she heard about the latest challenge sweeping the internet. Blake says her four-year-old son hasn't seen the video yet and she doesn't want him to.

"I don't want that video to pop up for him, I just ... I don't," she said.

And like many other moms, Blake says she heard about the challenge on Facebook.

Blake says she saw an article that claimed the video told kids to put a fork in a socket, and also to turn an oven on and get inside of it. Since then, it's been difficult for many people to find the original video making those claims.

"Well the first story I saw was already indicating that it was a hoax," UNO Communications Professor Dr. Jeremy Lipshultz said.

Dr. Lipshultz has been studying social media for several years.

He says trends like the Momo Challenge happen every few years, and are usually blown out of proportion.

"We have this human nature fear within us," Dr. Lipshultz said. It's why the Friday the 13th movies were so popular."

He says parents especially have become inclined to believe the worst, and while there may have been a video or two, Lipshultz says it's unlikely it's reached as many kids social media wants everyone to believe.

"Media literacy involves deconstructing story narratives and understanding where its coming from, what's the source of the information," Lipschultz said.

But for parents like Blake, keeping her child safe is her biggest concern, whether the new challenge is a hoax or not.

"They're innocent and they're trying to have some entertainment and they can't even do that," Blake said.

Dr. Lipshultz says he wants people to do their homework before sharing the latest social media scare, but the he recognizes the need for internet safety with small children.

"Know the media that they're consuming," he said. "Social media and other media, talk about it, share conversations about it because the more that you're engaged with your kids. The more they're not gonna be isolated and falling for memes that aren't true."