ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - It's creepy, it's scary and potentially deadly. The latest internet challenge has parents in a panic around the world. It's called the Momo Challenge and targets kids.
Parents said a creepy image pops up on the screen while children are watching videos on YouTube. But that's not the scariest part. Supposedly through the WhatsApp messaging app, Momo encourages participants to take on various challenges then send a photo as proof, of they will be cursed. The challenges start small and could lead to self-harm, even suicide.
"I've heard about the Momo Challenge from parents and they're worried, just like they worry about other challenges, but this one more so," said Pediatrician Dr. Hansa Bhargava.
The Momo Challenge, or at least talk of it, is spreading like wildfire. No one really knows how much of it is true, but Dr. Bhargava, who is also on the American Pediatric Association Council on Communications and Media, said parents should turn this around and use it as a way to talk to their kids.
"I think it's a great opportunity to talk to your kids about the dangers of being online," said Dr. Bhargava.
Lynn Patterson is a mom of two preteen girls. She said they like watching videos on YouTube and knows she's going to have to talk to them about the Momo Challenge.
"As we try to give our kids a bit of freedom and not stand over them, there's something like this, it is pretty disturbing and intimidating," said Patterson.
Twins Davik and Ellora Yadav, both 13, said they've heard their classmates talk about the challenge.
"I was shocked and surprised people would spread such terrible things," said Ellora.
While Davik and Ellora see it as frightening, they can understand how some of their peers could get talked into taking a challenge like this.
"They think they'll get attention by doing something that can harm themselves or others," said Davik.
Wednesday YouTube tweeted: "We've seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies.”
FOX 5 News also received a statement from WhatsApp that reads: "WhatApp cares deeply about the safety of our users. It's easy to block any phone number and we encourage users to report problematic messages to us so we can take action. We have machine learnings systems in place that ban accounts based on abusive behavior and user reports."