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.

Unable to view this article?

This could be due to a conflict with your ad-blocking or security software.

Please add japantimes.co.jp and piano.io to your list of allowed sites.

If this does not resolve the issue or you are unable to add the domains to your allowlist, please see out this support page.

We humbly apologize for the inconvenience.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.