Are children watching Peppa Pig at risk of self harm?

Earlier this week a Twitter user warned parents around the world that "a thing called 'Momo'" was instructing children to kill themselves and others.

In a tweet shared on Wednesday, claims were made that the scary figure appearing during kid's videos was inciting kids them to self harm or commit violence against their family.

It alleged games and Youtube videos were being hacked and harmful messages transmitted to children.

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But experts are arguing the Momo Challenge is nothing but a viral hoax perpetuated by frightened parents and local news outlets.

As news of the Momo Challenge spreads, parents have shared videos of their terrified children and called into radio stations, claiming the videos are real and the Momo figure is causing problems in their homes.

"Parents please be aware and very cautious of what your child watches on YouTube and KIDS YOUTUBE," the tweet warned.

"There is a thing called 'Momo' that's instructing kids to kill themselves, turn on stoves while everyone is sleep (sic) and even threatening to tell their parents.

"It doesn't come on instantly so it's almost as if it waits for you to leave the room then comes on in mid show.

The warning, which has now been retweeted 26 thousand times, said Momo had been spotted in videos of Peppa Pig, LOL DOLL, Those Surprise Eggs "and a few others".

The 'Momo Challenge' is an alleged form of cyber-bullying, where messages are transmitted to children through hacked Youtube videos and online games. Photo / Supplied
The 'Momo Challenge' is an alleged form of cyber-bullying, where messages are transmitted to children through hacked Youtube videos and online games. Photo / Supplied

"Inform everyone you can," the tweet pleaded.

Earlier in the week a mother shared a video of her crying son, saying he's "scared of it, when it comes up as a picture or anything".

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The mother said she had asked her son if he had ever seen Momo in a post from Sunday.

News about the dangers of Momo spread quickly across the internet, with local news outlets jumping on the story.

A post appeared in a Westhoughton Facebook group on February 17, which was picked up by the Manchester Evening news. This was reported on by online media and spread overseas.

A school in the UK tweeted about the Momo Challenge, claiming they'd been made aware that an individual or group was "hacking" into Kid's Youtube, Fortnite and episodes of Peppa Pig to threaten children.

Modern mum Kim Kardashian even got involved, posting to her Instagram begging YouTube to take action and help remove all "Momo Challenge" videos.

But the more the incident was reported on, the more people have asked to see a single example of a "hacked" Momo video.

This morning on the Kyle and Jackie O show, parents called in and told harrowing stories of their children being terrified by "the monster video".

One mum claimed her six-year-old daughter was convinced to turn on the stove in her home by the online monster.

Another mother said her child could no longer sleep in her own bed without crying.

"It got to the point that she couldn't be at home, in her own home, to feel safe," said another.

The numerous stories led to the radio hosts calling for the "sick maniac" behind the challenge to be locked up.

MOMO IS NOT REAL

But despite the numerous reports from mums of their children being frightened by Momo, experts say the Momo Challenge is nothing but mass panic. They say panicked parents are sharing misinformation.

"These stories being highly publicised and starting a panic means vulnerable people get to know about it and that creates a risk," a spokesperson for Samaritans in the UK, where the viral trend originated, said.

Despite the news of "child suicide" and "self-harm", verified incidences of harm are yet to emerge. But they admit the mass panic is of concern, and comes from parents real concerns about online safety.

Youtube has said claims of these videos appearing on its platform are completely false.

"Contrary to press reports, we have not received any evidence of videos showing or promoting the Momo challenge on YouTube," a spokesperson said.

"Content of this kind would be in violation of our policies and removed immediately."

The Momo Challenge peaked in interest in August last year but has regained its popularity after being posted in the Facebook group.

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WHERE TO GET HELP:

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:

0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) (available 24/7)
https://www.lifeline.org.nz/services/suicide-crisis-helpline
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 or TEXT 4202