PARENTS should teach their children how to use the internet to prevent them from getting addicted to social media applications.
This, following reports that a suicide game on Whatsapp, which has been trending on social media, has reached Philippine shores.
The Momo Challenge encourages children to commit violent acts, including taking their own lives. Children from Argentina, Colombia and France have reportedly committee suicide after playing the game.
Dr. Rene Obra, head of the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center Center for Behavioral Sciences, said children could easily be brainwashed to commit suicide.
He said the first five years of life are critical to child development. Parents should not allow children two years old and below to play with electronic gadgets, including cellphones, tablets and computers, he said.
Obra urged the Department of Education to include psychological and mental health subjects in nursery or elementary.
Cause for worry
“A child can easily be influenced to believe that what he is doing is normal even though it is not,” he said in Cebuano.
Meanwhile, Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale appealed to parents to check what games their children were playing on their cellphones and computers.
Magpale, chairperson of the Provincial Council for the Welfare of Children, said the Momo Challenge poses a danger to children.
She said she received reports about suicide incidents involving children.
She pointed to an incident in southern Cebu where a minor announced suicide plans on Facebook before committing suicide. However, the vice governor did not say if the suicide was caused by the Momo challenge.
“That’s why, I said this is cause for worry because, again, this will affect the emotions of the kids,” Magpale said.
In Manila, an 11-year-old boy reportedly killed himself. His mother blamed the Momo Challenge for his death.
Magpale hopes the police and the National Bureau of Investigation will make a move against the online challenge.
“If we can block off, although it may be difficult to do that. Do we even have proof that the Momo challenge is real? Let’s start with the parents, guidance of the parents,” she said in Cebuano.
In the Momo Challenge, a doll with a scary face urges children to divulge their contact details in Whatsapp. The children who participate reportedly receive violent images that pushes them to hurt themselves.
Momo also reportedly instructs children to fulfill dangerous tasks. This challenge reportedly started in Spanish-speaking countries.
The challenge later became popular in the English-speaking world after YouTuber ReignBot made a video about it last July.
The public was alarmed after the Police Service of Northern Ireland posted a warning against the Momo challenge on Facebook last week. (From HBL, SCG of SuperBalita Cebu, KAL)