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Gov’t IT experts urge parents to keep children safe from ‘Momo’

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, February 28th, 2019

The disturbing viral Momo Challenge uses the sculpture of Keisuke Aisawa to be the face of its horrifying character named Momo. | Source: Instagram

MANILA, Philippines – Government IT experts issued an advisory against an online application hooking young Internet users to commit suicide.

In its statement, the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) urges parents to monitor the online activities of their children amid the so called ‘online epidemic’ caused by an application of unknown origin that invites young users to do horrific tasks with suicide as the ultimate challenge.

The application called ‘Momo Challenge’ allegedly led an 11-year-old child to commit suicide.

The DICT cited a concerned citizen named Joy Alburo who noted on Facebook that the application may pop up in the middle of random videos on Youtube and attract users to engage.

The app also warns the young users to keep the activities to themselves or face certain consequences.

Government IT experts in the statement said that taking down the application “is not a guarantee of these materials disappearing from the web as new apps/videos surface regularly.”

The DICT said that though it can provide awareness programs against such dangerous online applications like the Digital Parenting Conferences they have been conducting since July 2017, “the power to monitor, educate and empower the youth lies in the hands of parents and the rest of the family.”

“The DICT will continue to enable parents in raising up digitally responsible citizens,” DICT Assistant Secretary Allan Cabanlong said in the statement.

“It is our fervent hope that parents play an active role in monitoring their kids online as the greatest influence to children is not the government nor the schools, it’s them- the parents. One simple tip everyone can apply now– no gadgets on the table. Use meal times to ask your kid ‘Kumusta? How’s school today?’. There’s no rocket science in digital parenting. It’s simply going back to the basics of parenting,” he said.

The DICT CyberSecurity Bureau assures the public that the agency is constantly monitoring the situation and “will continue to look into policy and technical remedies” on the matter.

Meanwhile, popular video sharing company YouTube tweeted its position regarding the viral mobile game.

“We want to clear something up regarding the Momo Challenge. We’ve seen no recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo Challenge on YouTube. Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies,” the company said on Twitter.

The company also encourages netizens to notify them in any event that a harmful or dangerous challenge appear on their videos.

How ‘Momo Challenge’ works

A video produced and published in September 2018 by Mumbai-based entertainment content platform, Arré, shows how the ‘Momo Challenge’ works.

The video explains how the game keeps the young users hooked to the challenges despite the violence.

It says the first step is an invite from a half-bird-half-woman avatar with bulging eyes named Momo. Momo encourages the user to text a certain number on WhatsApp. Once the contact is established, Momo will respond with a string of personal details about the user, including his address, his parents’ names and in some occasion, Momo even describes what the user is wearing at the time.

Users then are asked to do a series of horrific tasks beginning with alienating friends and families, then inflicting self- harm. ‘Momo’ will ask the user for photographic proof that the task has been completed. Failure to accomplish the task will yield threats from ‘Momo’.

IT experts said that the app creators are installing spyware on the user’s gadget which gives them access to the user’s social media account, contacts and even the front camera of the gadget used.

Reports said that these photos of victims are being used by the app creator to convinced more teenagers to eventually commit suicide and upload proof on social media in tribute to Momo.

Authorities from around the world have intensified their respective cybersecurity measures against the dangers of the Momo Challenge and other dangerous game applications online.

To date, the culprits behind the dangerous mobile app remain unknown. — Marje Pelayo

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Viral Momo: PNP warns parents, guardians to monitor children’s activities online

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, February 28th, 2019

The disturbing viral Momo Challenge uses the sculpture of Keisuke Aisawa to be the face of its horrifying character named Momo. | Source: Instagram

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) advise parents and guardians to strictly monitor children activities online amid the spread of an alleged suicide game called the “Momo Challenge” on social media.

The game features a scary-looking doll called Momo who allegedly encourages young users to add a contact on WhatsApp.

Once the invitation is complete, users are urged to do challenges that progress into more violent tasks such as self-harm and suicide.

The app is said to also appear on Facebook and Youtube.

“Sa ating mga magulang, kailangan po siguro nating bantayan ang ating mga anak. Kailangang magabayan ang ating mga anak lalo na kung sila ay nasa schools,” Albayalde said on Wednesday (February 27).

“Sa mga guro din, isa na rin ito na isama nila yung tamang pagtuturo para maiwasan itong mga suicidal thinking ng mga kabataan o ang mga challenges na ginagawa through the internet,” he added.

Albayalde added that those who encourage self-harm can also be held criminally liable.

“Remember this is a crime, lalong lalo na kung ang bata ang ini-enganyo na gumawa nito,” he concluded. – Marje Pelayo

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Suicide prompts mental health education to newly hired teachers in Leyte

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, July 20th, 2018

LEYTE, Philippines –  Following the recent suicide of a rookie teacher in Eastern Visayas, the Department of Education (DepEd) Leyte Division recommends equipping newly hired teachers with mental health education.

According to DepEd-Leyte Assistant Division Superintendent Edgar Tenasas, this will prepare new hires of what to expect throughout the course of his or her all-encompassing job as a teacher.

“The region has a plan to consider giving our teachers the so-called mental health education. Somewhat like giving our teachers the knowledge. Or perhaps how are we going to combat if we will be affected because of the work that we have,” said Tenasas.

Aside from mental health education, the Regional office also plans to establish a pre-orientation and transition program prior to deployment of rookie teachers.

Meanwhile, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) on Thursday (July 19) urged the DepEd to unload public school teachers of piles of paper works.

ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio suggested to the government to add non-teaching personnel who would accomplish the paper works for teachers who usually handle up to four classes.

“Sa kalagayan sa Pilipinas, halos wala po tayong Education Support personnel. Si teacher ay nagiging teacher, registrar, gumagampan bilang nurse, guidance counsellor, gumagampan ng samo’t saring trabaho. Dagdag pa diyan iyong napakaraming forms, paperworks na kaniyang ginagawa na maaari namang gawin ng isang clerk ng eskelwelahan,” explained Basilio.

Teacher Emilou Malate of Bagacay West Primary School took her life on July 14 due to depression as she could no longer handle stress and her load as a multi-grade teacher.

Her friends launched a Facebook page seeking justice for Emilou’s death. They also call on DepEd to assign school heads in public schools who have compassion and consideration to his or her colleagues. – Archyl Egano / Marje Pelayo

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DOH calls for depression awareness to help save lives

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, June 14th, 2018

Depression photo (REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao)

 

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos should extend support to their friends and loved ones with suicidal tendencies and avoid trivializing mental disorders.

According to the Department of Health (DOH,) suicide is preventable as long as one does not dismiss a person’s depression. The agency explained that depression is a period of sadness that lasts for two weeks and more which causes a person to lose interest in activities once enjoyed.

Health Undersecretary Herminigildo Valle said a depressed person would also prefer to be left alone and have thoughts of self-harm and suicide.

“Almost 90+ percent, may warning signs iyan (have warning signs)…If people start to withdraw from the usual activity or always isolating themselves or even expressing the thought. So it is very important na iyong (that the) companion or family member be aware na ito (that these are) warning signs ng (of) suicide ito,” said Valle

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that more than 800,000 people die yearly from suicide worldwide. It is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 years old.

In the Philippines, more than 2,500 suicide deaths were recorded in 2012 and the DOH is working to prevent this from increasing by opening a hope or suicide hotline.

Since its launch in 2016, they received more than 7,000 calls from depressed persons and 44% of them belong to the age group 13 to 29 years old.

DOH also advised the public to seek help and intervention for people who have signs of depression and history of suicide attempts.

The appeal comes after the high-profile deaths of designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, both of whom have battled depression prior to their deaths.

“It’s a complex issue but it is preventable…It’s really a sad thing, you think people have everything but if you don’t pay attention, you’ll miss the warning signs,” said Valle.

As of now, the agency continues to monitor “Hopeline” to check the callers’ condition and prevent any suicide attempts. – Aiko Miguel

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