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Momo challenge continues to cause panic Katie Brewer and Sean Carey want to hurt a famiA HAMPSHIRE Priory work- ly member, because this er has confirmed that she character has instructed has had to deal with two them to do it. I had to deal reports from GP’s con- with two requests from a cerning children and the private GP whose fami‘Momo Challenge.’ lies had to deal with Speaking to The Link, m o m o Joanne Morse, a Priory on placement specialist said: “We’ve had a number of calls from families whose children have experienced it and have hurt t h e m selves, or

The face associated with the Momo character. Picture credit: Poppy Blain

line.” The momo challenge is currently being spread across social media sites and apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Yout u b e and more. T h e challenge involves an image of a girl with a frightening appearance, large almost bug-like eyes and a wide smile, which then instructs children to perform acts of self-harm and to attack others. A Scottish mum who wishes to remain anonymous spoke to The Link about her daughters experience with the Momo challenge: “I’d seen a few things about Momo but never really paid attention to it as I thought all my daughters devices were secured. I just asked

her if she had ever heard of Momo and she just spilled it all out.” However, both the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and Samaritans have warned that there has been no confirmed reports or cases of anybody receiving messages or harming themselves. They have also warned that media coverage has contributed to a “moral panic.” When speaking to The Link, a spokesperson from Samaritans said: “There is a lot in the news and discussions in communities about alleged dangerous online games and challenges. In consultation and collectively with other child safety organisations we are taking the approach of not naming such services or images.” Addressing the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom said: “The Momo

Challenge is one that the government is extremely concerned about, we’ve been very clear that more needs to be done to keep UK users safe online, but what I can say, is that in the case of Momo, organisations including the Samaritans the NSPCC and the Safer Internet Centre have said there is no confirmed evidence that the Momo phenomenon is posing a threat to British children.” Although charities have confirmed there have been no reported incidents, members of the public, particularly parents, have expressed significant concern over the momo challenge. If you have are worried about your children staying safe online, or have been affected by online challenges please contact one of the following charities: Childline, the Professionals Online Safety Helpline, Samaritans or the NSPCC.

No link shown to violence and video games Sean Carey A NEW study conducted by the Oxford Internet Institute has found no link between violent video games and increased aggression in teenagers. Oxford University is describing the study as “one of the most definitive to date.” In a statement released by the institute, lead researcher Professor Andrew Przybylski said: “The idea that violent video games drive real-world aggression is a popular one, but it hasn’t tested very well over time. Despite the interest in the topic by parents and policy-makers, the research has not demonstrated that there is cause for concern.” The study used a combination of both subjective and objective data to measure aggression in teens, and violence in video games. Previous research on the topic has relied only on individual, self-report-

ed data from teenagers themselves. This study, however, used information from parents to judge the level of aggressive behaviour in their children. The content of the video games was classified using both the PEGI and ESRB rating systems, two official bodies that impose age restrictions on video games for their content. Just over 2000 people took part in the study. Researchers took data from a sample of British 14 and 15-yearolds and their parents. What further sets the Oxford Internet Institutes research apart from previous studies, is that researchers

used a technique called ‘preregistration’ - publishing their hypothesis and methods before beginning their research. Przybylski said: “The problem in technology research is that there are many ways to analyse the same data, which will produce different results. A cherry-picked result can add undue weight to the moral panic surrounding video games. The reg-

istered study approach is a safeguard against this.” There have been plenty of examples of video games being demonised by the mainstream media and politicians - who often point to studies that often contradict what the Oxford Internet Institute has found. In the UK, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and other notable MP’s have previously signed petitions to tighten restrictions on violent computer games. Dr James TerKeurst, senior lecturer in Video Game Design at Sol e n t U n i versity said: “As a relatively recent

A gamer fixated on a screen. Picture Credit: Christiana T

entertainment media it’s natural that games would be targeted as a scapegoat for teen violence. Teenagers love games, and people, parents, politicians and the media are always looking for someone to blame for anti-social teen behaviour. “This blame game has been played out many times in the past...– it was just video games’ turn in the public blame spotlight.” Thomas Moody, an avid video game collector who lives in Southampton, and has collected over 1000 pieces of gaming paraphernalia, said: “I have been playing video games since the mid-eighties. I have seen so many politicians and news outlets blame violent behaviour on games. It happens at least once a year. It’s good to see a study that disproves what the media have been saying.”

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