Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has weighed in on the Momo suicide challenge after reports emerged that the character was making violent threats in children's YouTube videos.
The character of Momo is involved in a terrifying online game encouraging people to self-harm, and sparked fresh controversy recently for reportedly appearing in YouTube videos and threatening to kill children and their families.
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Hackers have also been targeting children's shows and gaming videos on YouTube, implanting the terrifying character into the videos and shocking parents who believed their kids were watching child-friendly clips.
Ms Ardern has now addressed the controversy, telling The Rock's Morning Rumble that she didn't know details of the case, but believed it would difficult for Government to intervene in what is appearing in YouTube videos.
"Generally, we do have a role in censorship, but ultimately, when it comes to things like little YouTube clips or things you access that way, it is much harder to regulate," she said.
"The ol' parental supervision when your kids are trawling through YouTube is still pretty important."
The controversy may also be a good reminder about not letting YouTube or any other websites take away from social interaction.
"They say look as long as your screen time doesn't replace social interaction, so I think probably 12 hours a day is probably pretty extensive," Ms Ardern said.
The latest development comes after an eight-year-old boy was told by the game to hold a knife to his neck and just days after YouTube was accused of not being careful with exposing minors to objectionable content on its platform.
In the game, young people are encouraged to follow a series of challenges, culminating in taking their own lives. In much the same way, Momo players are reportedly threatened if they don't follow the game's orders.
The avatar for Momo is a haunting image of a woman with bulging eyes, taken from the work of Japanese artist Midori Hayashi, who has no connection to the game.
Where to find help and support:
Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737
Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
Samaritans - 0800 726 666
Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
- Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)