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3 Ways to Help Shield Your Child from ‘Momo’

By now most parents have heard of the disturbing ‘Momo challenge’ targeting children via YouTube videos, encouraging them to perform acts of self-harm, violence or rebellion. Unfortunately, this will not be the last topical incident to be criticised in the news for terrorising kids. In a technology-driven society where screen use among youth continues to rise, it prompts these online dangers to increase.

Here Karen Cantwell, CEO of iStaySafe, developers of the TicTocTrack® software and safety smartwatch, shares three ways to help shield your child from Momo and keep them #cybersafe.

Turn on parental controls and monitor online behaviour

Innocent searches online can sometimes lead to unwanted explicit content. In this digital age, it’s wise to have parental controls and search restrictions like Google’s SafeSearch Filter activated on your child’s smartphone or tablet. By using external software such as Meet Circle or Qustodio to monitor their browser history, you’ll be able to make sure the sites your child is visiting are safe and secure.

Guide your child away from Peppa Pig and Fortnite videos on YouTube and YouTube Kids for now as this is where the majority of Momo-related content has been reported. Instead, offer them an alternative; for example, a Twitch livestream of a Fortnite match or grab the Blu-ray of your child’s favourite show. If your child insists on watching videos on YouTube, a good tip is to turn off the suggested auto-play as this will stop them from viewing content that they have not directly selected.

A tough question every parent asks themselves when monitoring their child is: where do you draw the line? A good measure to help decide how much you monitor your child’s online habits is to base it on their age, maturity and their ability to make wise choices. The older they are, the more you’ll be able to loosen up and trust that they understand what they’re searching for and viewing on the internet.

Have an open line of communication

Open communication with your child is vital in ensuring your child’s online and physical safety. By having frequent conversations with your child, it allows for a more honest and trusting relationship, meaning your child will feel more confident to come to you and speak up if they see or experience something of concern in the online world. Talk to them about the current online threats they might encounter, like the Momo challenge, and help them understand why it’s important for them to be cautious when exploring the world wide web – it’s not until children get older that they begin to understand that there are some things on the internet that exist to harm.

Teach children how to recognise alarming content and the steps to take

An average of 300 hours of content is uploaded to YouTube every minute, which presents a challenge for moderators trying to block inappropriate videos. Educate your child about what’s appropriate on the internet to help them recognise strange online photos or videos they may encounter. Teach them that if they see the format of the show or video change suddenly, potentially something is wrong. By increasing their knowledge of digital dangers and cyber safety, it will help instil independence and evolves their understanding of social media platforms and video sharing services.

But what should they do if they see something alarming? Advise your child of the steps they should follow if they see concerning content on social media services or on YouTube. For example; depending on their age, your child should take a screenshot, report and block the content, and then inform an adult so the issue can be escalated. If you’re educating a younger child, reinforce the ‘close the browser immediately and tell an adult’ mantra.

The last decade saw Creepypasta trending on the internet, and now the rise of the Momo challenge. With the time our youth spend in front of screens being higher than ever before, it’s so important that parents are teaching their kids how to be cybersafe as well as encouraging open communication to maintain their wellbeing and look out for their mental health and safety.

For more information on the TicTocTrack smartwatch, visit tictoctrack.com.au




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