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The real threat to your children isn’t Momo

21 0 1
05.03.2019

BERLIN - The “Momo challenge,” the latest iteration of the remarkably persistent teen suicide game scare, is a hoax born of parents’ media illiteracy and anxiety about what kids do online all by themselves. But the issue of internet-inflicted harm to minors is real, and parents need to look out for things other than a spooky, bug-eyed Japanese-designed character.

The fact-checkers and data have provided some comfort. Just as in the earlier moral panic caused by the Russian suicide challenge Blue Whale, no one has yet linked a specific death to Momo. Teenage suicide rates have fallen in most developed nations even as internet use increased.

But don’t get lulled into a false sense of security. It’s difficult to establish a link between someone’s web history and cause of death. And most comparative studies of teenage suicide rely on the World Health Organization’s mortality database, which isn’t up-to-date enough.

Credible evidence exists linking internet activity and suicide. Swedish researcher Tony Durkee and collaborators reviewed it in a 2011 paper; a number of studies have shown that........

© The Japan Times