Internet Safety

 

March 1, 2019

Dear Parents:

With current news agencies and social media reporting on issues with internet safety for children these past few days, we wanted to connect with you on what we are doing here at school, and the resources that are available to you at home to support your child.  It is important to note that online hoaxes, challenges, and essentially creepy and inappropriate content arises on the internet all the time.  The most recent one is called “momo” (pronounced like mow in ‘I have to mow the lawn’.)  We wanted to make you aware of the title so that you could be vigilant in listening for it and talking about it with your child. 

This recent viral challenge is already being dispelled as a hoax by reliable news sources and social media platforms.  But, because it has undertones of self-harm and terror, we wanted you to be aware of it, without spreading how it is spelled or naming it specifically in our parent backpack letter home. 

The original image of the momo figure is actually a picture of a Japanese special effects sculpture. Just like any urban legend or boogie man, the concept can be quite upsetting for young people.  It’s important for you to reiterate that this is not a real person and that it cannot directly harm them.  Also, tell your child to not worry or continue to search for it, or even bother talking about it… it’s not real.

  • It is important for any caregiver, be they family or a babysitter to be present and to monitor children using video games or the internet (phone, tablet, and computer).  
  • Talk about the online and social media content that they have seen, and the games that they play.  If you do this frequently you’ll not only understand better what they are doing, but those honest and frequent conversations will encourage your child to feel confident to discuss issues and concerns.  Don’t let this be something that children feel should be a secret or untruthful about.  It is essential for their safety that you know what they are exposed to, both online and through video games.
  • Make sure that you’ve set up your parental controls. We recommend that you definitely turn off the “suggested auto-play” feature on YouTube.  This will keep children from viewing content that they have not directly selected.  
  • Make sure you talk to your child about how peer-pressure can lead to really bad choices, and that they should never do anything that they know is wrong or that feels wrong.  If they are unsure, they need to tell an adult.  
  • As you well know, the stuff that goes around online is not always true.  You are part of the solution if you flag and report anything to the platform like Facebook or YouTube that you think is inappropriate or harmful.  
  • We also have some concerns about inappropriate conversations that students may be having as they can speak to one another, or complete strangers through their game consoles at home.  Be wary of this feature, you’ll want to keep a careful ear on what your child is doing when playing any video games.

Here are some online resources that you might also find helpful:

https://www.netsmartzkids.org/LearnWithClicky/ItsOkToTell
https://www.commonsensemedia.org/
https://www.bark.us/blog/momo-challenge/

We truly appreciate and respect your vigilance as a parent for internet and gaming safety.  We are here to help, please let us know if you or your child need our support by calling our counselors or main office.

Mrs. Curtin, Principal