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More experts issue warning vs. ‘Momo challenge’


The "Momo challenge," which has been blamed for the suicide of an 11-year-old in Quezon City, should serve as a wake-up call for parents when it comes to the importance of monitoring their children's online activity, according to several experts.

"'Yung iba kasing parents, with all due respect, ginagamit na itong mga gadget as a 'new pacifier' na parang 'manahimik ka lang,' 'para di mo ko guluhin,' o 'manood ka na lang ng video,' 'maglaro ka na lang games'," IT expert Jerry Liao said Thursday in Oscar Oida's report for "State of the Nation with Jessica Soho."

"Hindi puwedeng ganoon. Kailangan we really have to exert time, more time, with our kids sa real world, even online," he added.

Another expert, TJ Dimacali, urged parents to explore the use of filtering and monitoring software and tools.

"You can look at parental controls, activate them, set filters," he said.

Dimacali also pointed out that shielding children from the possible dangers of such online trends can be as simple as sitting down with them and taking the time to study what they have access to. 

"The things you can do, not just on YouTube, but also on any other media sites is just sit down with them if at least just for one episode or two or three para makita mo talaga kung ano 'yung  laman ng content," he said.

In a statement, the Department of Education (DepEd) likewise urged  parents and guardians to maintain an open communication with their children, educate them about responsible online behavior, and monitor what they access online.   

Parents were also urged help children understand that their "parents and guardians are the foremost people they can trust about matters that make them feel uncomfortable, coerced, or unsafe."

'Teacher'

The Momo challenge has reportedly been compelling young children to harm oneself and others. 

A clip shared by a concerned mother showed how her four-year-old girl referred to the momo icon as "teacher."

"Natakot siya, nagtago po siya sa arm ko, tas parang hesitant siyang mag-answer sa questions ko," the mother, Emily Valcarel, said.

As the investigation into the disturbing online trend continues, Vic Lorenzo of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) emphasized that whoever was behind the Momo challenge is after something more personal than money.

"Hindi 'yan for financial gain kasi mga kabataan ng targets nila o mga victims nila. Di ba medyo wala pang pera 'yan? Ang possible motive is to satisfy the God-like feeling, the power over life and death," he said. —Margaret Claire Layug/ LDF, GMA News