By now, you’ve almost certainly heard about the ‘Momo Challenge’ – it’s spreading like wildfire among kids on social media. For the lucky ones who haven’t been exposed to it, it’s a sickening chain letter style game that encourages children to share pictures of self-harm and even commit suicide. Now, terrifying images have started to appear spliced into Peppa Pig and Fortnite videos on YouTube Kids.
For many parents, ‘Momo’ is an all too familiar story. So too are the calls for greater regulation of social media and video sharing services for kids.
Sadly there’s a reality no one wants to admit: regulation cannot solve this problem. With over 400 hours of new content uploaded by users every single minute, it’s impossible to check everything. Someone will always be trying to beat the algorithm on user-generated content platforms like YouTube. And by the time content has been reported or taken down, millions of kids may have already been harmed by the content. Put simply, these services are simply not designed for kids.
Advice provided by organisations like Parent Zone is useful, but what parents actually need are solutions. Places where kids can go online safely, be entertained, learn and enjoy everything that is wonderful about technology. These platforms – curated by humans, not algorithms – exist today. For pre-school kids, I can’t recommend Hopster highly enough. Their beautiful app is completely age-appropriate, ad-free and designed specifically for children so you know they won’t stumble on something they shouldn’t. If they’re a little older (5+) Azoomee (no bias here) is also a great solution. It’s completely safe, with every game and video chosen by educators before it appears on the service. It also focuses on teaching children 21st century skills (like online safety) so they are better prepared for the next depressingly inevitable online danger.
The point is parents do have a choice. They can take their children off these dangerous platforms and give them digital solutions that will solve this problem for good!
-Estelle Lloyd, co-founder and COO at Azoomee