As mama to two wonderful girls and a lover of teens everywhere, the momo challenge is a huge struggle for me. It comes on the heels of “Elsagate,” (another instance of people using YouTube to hurt young people.) It is hard for me to comprehend that anyone could be so evil that they would try to hurt children in this way. It scares me that we live in a world that is so dangerous.
When I was a kid, and I felt this strongly about things, people got frustrated with me. They said I was too sensitive, and that I was focusing on the negative. They said, “it’s so few people compared to the whole world, everything is fine.” As I grow up though, I am realizing we are given our emotions for a reason, and shutting them down is not the right way to handle them.
A teacher I am inspired by said that our emotions are a sign of something else, something we need to do, or something we want and have been ignoring. At first, when I heard about the momo challenge, I felt absolute despair. I was angry and miserable that the world we live in is hurting so much, and that evil was even a thing we have to worry about. Let’s be honest, I am still angry about it, but I am learning to use my emotions. So what are my anger and sadness about this telling me? What can I do about momo?
The first thing is the most obvious.
WATCH YOUR KIDS. A CBS news article reminded its readers that that is the main message about this story.
“Our advice as always, is to supervise the games your kids play and be extremely mindful of the videos they are watching on YouTube,” The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) wrote on Facebook. “Ensure that the devices they have access to are restricted to age suitable content.””
The second thing is TEACH your kids to stick up for themselves.
In the same article, CBS says,
“Law enforcement also says parents need to focus on the bigger picture: “Even basic open source research suggests that ‘Momo’ is run by hackers who are looking for personal info,” PSNI Craigavon wrote on Facebook. “The danger lies with your child feeling pressured to either follow the orders of ANY app via challenges,’ or peer pressure in chat rooms and the like … More important is that your child knows not to give out personal info to ANYONE they don’t know, that no one has the right to tell them to, or make them do ANYTHING they don’t want to.””
This struck me. In a way it’s obvious, of course, kids need to know they have control. At the same time, how often are we teaching them that they have to do what someone else says. This may have worked in a society when 99% of the authority figures they met would have been a positive influence. In our world today though, kids will be hounded by a thousand different voices telling them who to be and how to do things and what to do. Be a shield against that. Teach your kids that they are in control of their choices, and that they choose to listen to the right authorities, whether that be friends who are trying to help vs. humiliate them, marketing that is meeting a need vs. implantig a fear, online quizzes that promise money or curses, or anything else.
The third thing, which is what I do when something is completely hopeless and there’s nothing else I can do about it, is pray. PRAY for your enemies.
I am angry and full of hatred and vitriol for these awful people that would start something like this, but deep down I believe that negative behavior comes from some unmet need in that person. A while back, celebrities started responding to trolls by looking through their twitter and seeing what their struggles were. It changed those people’s lives. What if we were able to look at things that way? It starts with prayer, it takes an incredible amount of grace to be able to set aside your anger and pray for those who are hurting you, and even more so when they are just a Facebook post in the distance. Maybe, though, they have no one praying for them. Maybe they feel completely alone and scared and it’s turning them into someone they don’t want to be.
Lastly, I just want to say to anyone who has been hurt by the momo challenge in any way, to anyone who started the momo challenge, I am praying for you. This is a sign of some serious pain in the world, join me in praying for the others who are hurting from this. Let’s turn this nightmare into a world of prayer for the victims and perpetrators so big that all the pain from it is erased by the love and grace that we spread because of it.