EDITORIAL: The weird and wicked Internet

The world we live in is constantly changing, and because of that, the way we receive threats is also morphing into something wicked and weird on the Internet.

The latest threat, the Momo Challenge, has popped up on other venues over the past couple of years, and now it is greeting children via YouTube. The creepy girl with bulging eyes and a wide smile that looks like it was cut out of cardboard invites children to play a game that eventually escalates into self harm and persuasion of suicide. Somehow, “Momo” gets information about the children’s homes and family members, presumably through their account information, and uses it against the children.

The whole thing is way too creepy. And, preying on young children is just sickening.

But, this is the world we live in. And without proper education, prevention, and support, awful scenarios like Momo’s could play out right before our eyes.

Children are lucky these days to have different ways of reporting threatening behaviours. Students are encouraged to report concerning online behaviour that makes them feel uncomfortable to an adult, or to the anonymous ERASE reporting tool at www.erasereportit.gov.bc.ca.

We can only do so much to protect children from a vicious world online. The answers to the universe and everything are right at their fingertips, and unsolicited information is constantly popping up. The best thing parents can do is monitor their children’s behaviours online and teach them the importance of safety.

Not allowing children to access many sites is a good place to start. YouTube has a specific kids channel, and a handful of approved channels that should keep kids interested. Some of these include Ryan ToysReview, Blippi, The Axel Show, CookieSwirlC, Toys Unlimited, and of course the favourite Peppa Pig – Official Channel.

I realize you’re not going to be hovering over your child every second of the day to make sure nothing creepy and weird is going to pop up, and that’s OK. Perhaps it is time to limit screen time and get outdoors, practice riding the bike, or pick up a fun book to read. Another way to ensure you’re not getting mysterious messages on your kids’ screens is to rent movies and shows. We have a great place in town that has pretty much enough movies and TV shows to keep your kids busy until they grow old.

Whatever you do, just know that these threats are out there. They can be prevented, and kids can be educated. Stay informed, and look out for warning signs in your children.

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