Parents should be vigilant in monitoring their children, especially their use of social media and gaming applications, the Department of Education (DepEd) in Palawan warned.
The warning comes amid the controversy of the “Momo Challenge” that is currently going viral.
Grace Estefano, the agency’s information officer, said their national office immediately disseminated information about the trend.
“So far walang reports ang nakakarating sa atin. Naging maagap si DepEd sa information dissemination about this Momo challenge and other online threats, as well as sa kinakalat namin na statement ng Stairway Foundation. Sila kasi ang partner namin pagdating sa child protection, one of the partners,” she said.
The Momo challenge allegedly tells children to commit dangerous tasks including violent attacks and suicide.
Available online information said it became popular in 2018 when it was noticed by a YouTuber. Individuals said to be presenting themselves as “Momo” targets teens on chat apps through messages to entice them to communicate with them through the cellular phone.
Like other Internet challenges, Momo reportedly instructs its targets to perform tasks and refusal is met with threats coming from frightening photos.
It has been blamed recently for the death of one child reported in another country.
In a press statement, the DepEd central office urged parents and guardians to maintain open communications with their children to educate them about responsible online behavior and monitor what sites they access online.
The department also advised parents to help their children understand that they are the foremost people they can trust about matters that make them feel uncomfortable, coerced, or unsafe.
“In school, the Department emphasizes with the learners that their online safety is just as important as their physical safety through age-appropriate and contextualized lesson plans that enable them to still appreciate the internet as a safe and enjoyable platform of learning,” the statement said.
The DepEd is also strengthening its implementation of the Child Protection Policy by emphasizing “online safety as one of the crucial components of the measure’’.
Estefano said guidance counselors even teachers and child protection advocates are trained as part of this policy.
DepEd assured that online safety is taught in schools for children to acquire skills on how to discern online issues, threats and information authenticity across all grade levels in all subject areas in the K to 12 curricula.
One of the DepEd partners in child protection, Stairway Foundation, said even Youtube and Google have stated that they have found no evidence of the “Momo challenge” appearing in their platform, they also advised teachers and parents on how to handle the situation.
The group also urged parents to avoid unhealthy ‘knee jerk reactions’ on the viral issue such as banning use of devices that may also add distress to their children.
Teachers and parents must also discuss the information about “Momo” to their children and the harm that this could bring to them.