Gardaí, in conjunction with CyberSafeIreland, have issued a warning over a viral online game called the 'Momo Challenge'.
Parents are being warned to be vigilant over their children's online activity with regard to possible participation in the game. The game, is spread through social media platforms, primarily WhatsApp and dares participants to engage in a serious of increasingly sinister challenges.
The avatar of the game, 'Momo' is a disturbing woman with lank hair, bulging eyes and a distorted, beak-like mouth. The image is actually taken from a work of art, housed in a modern art gallery in Japan. The sculpture was created by an artist named Keisuke Aisawa, a special effects creator for Link Factory, and is based on a create in Japanese folklore known as an 'ubume'. Neither the artist, nor his affiliated studio, Link Factory, have any involvement with the 'Momo Challenge' and the image of the sculpture without their approval.
The game has drawn parallels to the similar, 'Blue Whale' game that originated in Russia several years ago and was dubiously linked to the suicides of several teenagers. It similarly exhorted participants to engage in a series of increasingly dangerous challenges.
However, it is incredibly straight-forward to not engage with the game. If you receive a message on WhatsApp, or any social media platform, purporting to be from 'Momo', simply treat it as any other spam message and ignore it and block the number.
Gardaí are however urging parents to watch out for their children's internet activities to make sure they aren't engaging with the game.
CyberSafeIreland has of yet said that there have been no cases so far of any children coming to harm due to the game, stating however:
"It is really important that parents are aware that while the Internet brings great opportunities for fun, learning and socialisation, there are also risks that have to be managed, including access to harmful content or harmful contact.
Parents should make informed decisions about their children's online use, keep a close eye on things, and have regular conversations about what what their children are seeing and doing online."