Is The Momo Challenge a hoax? The danger is real

MoMo Challenge

Various media outlets are saying the Momo Challenge is a viral hoax. So, are children around the world being told subliminally, through graphic, frightening images, to kill themselves? Whether or not MOMO is true, the reality is, keeping your kids safe from hateful online messages and predators is more difficult and complex than protecting them from Momo Challenges, Tide Pod Challenges and the like.


Platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, have no effective means to police their programming in a meaningful way. It’s more questionable sincerity. Any curating of video takes place after it has been uploaded —after people have viewed it. The result is a constant stream of harmful, inappropriate content, laden with advertising. Kids spend hours crossing a digital street in which they are targeted by the speeding traffic of potentially damaging and manipulative content. They must dodge algorithms that promote extreme and/or graphic images, while watching out for cyberbullies and predators.


And that’s just the overtly bad stuff. There is a steady, insidious manipulation as well. Silicon Valley executives are not exactly an altruistic group. In fact, when what’s good for your children clashes with an ability to turn a better profit, your children have often lost. That’s why neuroscientists are brought in to not just make video games and apps that appeal to children but are addictive. YouTube executives and social media big wigs are quick to talk to the media about what actions they are taking to remove harmful images and content. Meanwhile, each child’s data is collected and sold and used to make money.


The Momo Challenge may be a viral hoax, but there are plenty of other dangerous, disturbing things found on YouTube and other sites that are not fake. YouTube is particularly vulnerable to the manipulations of people who enjoy being cruel. It’s not realistic in most cases to say, “I’ll never let my children use the internet.” Wouldn’t that be nice? Except so much learning and school work requires students to use the internet and with land lines going the way of rotary phones, mobile phones have become a standard. The reality is, the digital world is here to stay, and our children are its youngest, native-born citizens.


As parents we all need to hold YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat – and other online entities threatening the safety of children– accountable for what they allow on their platforms. We need to push companies to be better digital citizens and do a better job of preventing, policing and putting a stop to harmful content.


Until then, we must all do what we can. You wouldn’t let your young children cross a busy, dangerous street alone without holding their hand and guiding them across. Don’t let them navigate this digital world alone. Keep a hold of their hand now and be the protection the internet does not offer. With or without Momo lurking in children’s programming, the internet is no safer or less dangerous than it was before.

Digital Citizen Academy’s Home Program is designed to help parents raise responsible digital citizens, while protecting your children from the dangers of technology. Our online program for the home provides you with the tools and resources to support your family and address the specific issues our kids are facing in their school years. Learn more here about our advocacy membership and what it includes. Take action to protect your children today.

What is your Digital Footprint?!

know and control your digital footprint!


 How It Began -Digital Footprint “Did you know the computer was born not for entertainment or email but out of a need to solve a serious number-crunching crisis? By 1980, the US population had grown so large that it took more than seven years to tabulate the U.S. Census results. The government sought a faster way to get the job done, giving rise to punch-card based computers  that took up entire rooms.


Today we carry more computing power on our smartphones than was available in these early models. ….computers have evolved from their humble beginnings to the machines of today that surf the Internet, play games and stream multimedia in addition to crunching numbers.”


Technology Today – While technology has its benefits, it has literally changed the way we think, live, communicate and organize our time. In regards to personal computing and cellphones, research shows technology has changed our culture. Along with exponential leaps in technology development in smartphones, tablets and the Internet, has come the social media craze fraught with positive, negative, and even unanticipated online behaviors.


Your Digital Reputation – Just a few years ago, not many were contemplating how to protect their digital reputation or understood the importance of establishing a positive digital footprint. Today, your digital reputation is defined by your behaviors in the online environment and by the content you post about yourself and others. Photos, text messages, video sharing, blog posts, and social networking interactions shape how you are perceived by others online and offline. In essence, your digital reputation, now and in the future, defines you!


Your Digital Footprint – Directly related to your digital reputation is your digital footprint. Your digital footprint is a trail of data you create while using the Internet. It can include the websites you visit, emails you send, online games you play, online videos you share and information you submit to various online services. Your digital footprint is permanent.


Just like your personal reputation that shows your overall quality or character as seen or judges by people in general, your digital reputation created by your online behavior, is equally important now and in the future. Vigilant management of both your personal and digital reputation is essential to protecting yourself against the overwhelming, fast-paced and often volatile world intent on changing or influencing your personal and digital reputation.


Reputation Management – Put into practice reputation management by asking yourself and your children these 10 questions about digital reputation and digital footprint:


  1. How has technology changed your life?
  2. Can you define digital reputation?
  3. Can you define digital footprint?
  4. Do you know the difference between a digital reputation and a digital footprint?
  5. Do you know the importance of a digital reputation?
  6. Do you know the importance of a digital footprint?
  7. Do you know how to reduce your actions online?
  8. What are digital rights and responsibilities?
  9. Do you know how to protect your digital reputation?
  10. How can your digital reputation influence college and work opportunities?

Technology Travel Tips for The Holidays

Consciously take the time to UnPlug this Holiday Season and follow these tech travel tips.

Five  Travel Tips for The Holidays

Take the time to UnPlug this Holiday season and follow these tech travel tips.
Take time to UnPlug this Holiday Season and try to follow these tech travel tips.

If you have ever forgotten or misplaced a device, you’re in good company. Lots of people forget to retrieve their devices from wherever they’ve been.  Panic may be instantaneous or delayed depending on when the device is discovered missing! 

Whether traveling by plane, train, or automobile, or just visiting Grandma’s house across town, travel can be overwhelming.  We hope to help make your holiday safer and full of good cheer by sharing some handy holiday tech travel tips.  

  • Make sure all data is backed up before taking devices anywhere.  This way, if you lose anything no one will need to panic.
  • Hackers love the chaos of malls and other busy shopping venues.  When traveling, shopping,or just when you’re out and about in crowds, use caution or avoid public Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • Sharing on social media when traveling, especially your location and amount of time you’ll be away, is an open invitation to vandals.  For safety when traveling, save sharing memories until you return home.
  • Before you travel, check your carrier’s website and find out what to do if you lose your phone. All service providers have FAQ’s that will walk you through their process.
  • We all want our children to be safe on and offline.  Whether at home or traveling, go through their settings to see what kind of privacy and security features their devices are set to and teach your child a few basics about cyber safety, like shutting down location services, keeping accounts private, and telling an adult if something makes them uncomfortable.

We hope you find these tech travel tips helpful for you and your family and can encourage everyone around you to unplug this Holiday Season. Spread the cheer by adding to our list of travel tips in addition to creating your own technology goals for the New Year.