A mother today claimed her daughter was left so terrified after being exposed to Momo that she banged her head against school walls and now refuses to go to the toilet alone and suffers from paralysing nightmares.
Callie Astill, seven, covered her ears, screamed and burst into tears when Victoria Turner asked her about the creepy character on Monday after seeing social media posts urging parents to be vigilant.
The schoolgirl eventually admitted she had been having nightmares and Victoria realised Momo was behind Callie’s startling change in behaviour over recent weeks.
The youngster initially refused to talk about the shadowy figure that she claims popped up on YouTube Kids as she was scared that her mother would come to harm if she did.
YouTube insisted today that it hasn’t found ‘recent evidence’ of the disturbing challenge appearing anywhere.
Victoria Turner says her daughter was distraught after her daughter Callie, seven, started behaving erratically and later admitted seeing a Momo video online
Momo is reportedly being used to terrify children into harming themselves
Miss Turner, 24, has blasted the ‘disgusting’ video creators and is urging parents to be aware of the clips and reassure their children it’s not real.
What is the horrifying Momo challenge and where has it come from?
The chilling image of ‘Momo’ is the creation of Japanese artist Midori Hayashi – but was hijacked by sick pranksters two years ago and used to try to blackmail children into self-harm.
Cruel tricksters began using the image on the internet in 2016 – there have been links to the deaths of at least three children outside the UK.
Children are encouraged to contact a number – freely available on social media and some online games – via the messaging service WhatsApp.
Violent images are then sent to the youngsters’ phones, with strangers setting a series of tasks that they must carry out, escalating in severity and including self-harm.
It is claimed that threats sent to youngsters include being ‘killed in their sleep’ or their families being murdered.
In WhatsApp messages and texts the children are told how to hurt someone – and the last post tells the victim to take their own lives.
And in a new twist some parents have warned that a new version of the challenge are being spliced into online videos of popular children’s programmes such as Peppa Pig, terrifying even younger children.
There are also complaints about the hijacking of online games. Children wanting to quit the game are threatened with their personal details being leaked online.
She said: ‘I’m completely devastated by this. I asked my daughters whether they’d heard of Momo and Callie blew her top and started screaming – it was like a big bomb went off.
‘She had her fingers in her ears, burst into tears and it took a long time to console her. When she could speak she said ‘Mummy it’s a secret, I can’t tell you’.
‘She’s that petrified she doesn’t go to the toilet on her own.’
Victoria, also mum to four-year-old Lola Russell, said that before she realised Momo was the cause of the upset she’d received calls from the school two weeks ago expressing concern about Callie’s change in behaviour.
The waitress and mother-of-two said: ‘Prior to this I had the school ringing up saying that Callie was acting awfully strange.
‘She’s quite a good girl but there was a distinct change in her behaviour, I did wonder whether she was being bullied.
‘She was purposely banging her head on walls and asking to come home and wouldn’t go to bed.
‘I thought ‘what’s going on here? This isn’t my Callie’. I thought I was doing something wrong or that it was a behavioural issue but now it all adds up – she was frightened to death.’
Callie, who loves watching cartoons including Minecraft, is still frightened of the figure and refuses to be drawn on the details of what she saw.
However the terrified youngster eventually confided in Victoria that she has seen it pop up a few times while watching cartoons on YouTube Kids.
Victoria said: ‘The only internet access my kids have is YouTube Kids and every parent I speak to is guilty of letting their kids watch cartoons on YouTube now and again.
‘I let them on my phone thinking it would be safe, it’s a platform you trust to be ok for children as that’s what it’s there for.
‘She said she’s watched videos on there and that’s where Momo has popped up and told her things.
‘Since she’d told me I’ve seen things people have shared online and these videos tell kids to keep it secret and if they say anything they will come and get their parents instead, it’s sick.
Sophie Giblin says her son Harry was left traumatised and fearing his family would be murdered after a ‘Momo’ doll popped up while he watched Peppa Pig on YouTube
This little girl hacked off her shoulder length hair (left) after listening to Momo in another online sick stunt
‘I can’t believe my poor girl is afraid of something I let her watch, there are some horrible, sick people out there.’
YouTube says it hasn’t found ‘ANY recent evidence’ of disturbing Momo challenge despite parent reports
YouTube has insisted said it had seen no evidence of videos showing or promoting the Momo challenge on its platform.
Parents and schools have claimed that children have been left upset by the videos.
YouTube responded to the reports today after initially staying silent on the topic.
‘Contrary to press reports, we’ve not received any recent evidence of videos showing or promoting the Momo challenge on YouTube,’ a YouTube spokesman said last night.
He added: ‘Content of this kind would be in violation of our policies and removed immediately.’
Yet the authorities and schools have issued warnings to parents across social media to be on the lookout for the references to the disturbing challenge.
In a chilling Facebook post this week, a concerned mother shared her six-year-old daughter’s detailed account of how she was targeted by the Momo Challenge while watching a Peppa Pig video on YouTube Kids.
And now Sophie Giblin’s son Harry has said the same.
Victoria said that Callie has been kept awake by the scary creation and when she does finally drift off is jolted awake by nightmares.
Victoria said: ‘She’s not slept properly for weeks, on Tuesday night she didn’t go to sleep until 1am and when she did sleep she was having a lot of nightmares.
‘She would say to me ‘I keep seeing the face mummy’.
‘She’s seven years old, she shouldn’t be feeling like this. It’s obviously had a big impact on her.’
Victoria has vowed not to let her children watch cartoons on YouTube again and is now urging parents to be vigilant.
She added: ‘I’m sharing this I want to make people aware of what some children are seeing.
‘I was only aware of it because I had seen other posts about it – Callie didn’t say anything to me and I wouldn’t have asked her if I hadn’t other posts.
‘It’s a really touchy subject in the house at the moment. She came in from school yesterday and said they’d spoken about it in assembly but Callie said she didn’t want to hear about it.
‘I’ve told her the best thing to do it talk about it so she knows it’s not real.
‘I’m an adult and it’s not very nice for me to look at, this is very scary and dark stuff. It’s the kind of face you can’t get out of your mind, it’s like a horror movie.
‘Whoever is behind it, they’re obviously not right in the head, people gets kicks out of the most disgusting things.’