Important Online Safety Update

Important Online Safety Update for Parents
Posted on 02/28/2019
This is the image for the news article titled Important Online Safety Update for ParentsThe School District of Pickens County has been made aware of a new form of cyberbullying that targets young students. The “Momo Challenge” encourages students to commit dangerous and potentially violent acts on social media. The Momo Challenge plays out on various forms of social media including Facebook, Youtube, WhatsApp (a free messaging app that can block the identity of the sender) or gaming applications. Through text messages or social media, students receive messages from a frightening character named "Momo," which appears as a woman with distorted facial features. "Momo" invites students to participate in a series of dares or self-harm and threatens violence if challenges are not completed. On Youtube, videos targeted toward children have been edited to include images of the Momo character encouraging children to perform dangerous acts. In the past two days, SDPC has seen a surge in student searches for this topic.

At the district level, we have already taken steps to block searches of the Momo Challenge and related content on district computers, laptops and tablets. Searches for "momo" are now flagged by our Securly software, so parents and school administrators will be alerted whenever a student searches for the word. In addition, Youtube has been blocked from all district-issued student devices while we research a way to allow access only to pre-approved channels.

While these digital platforms are blocked on all SDPC devices, individuals may still be able to access such sites through their personal devices and accounts. At home, we recommend several steps to ensure the online safety of children:

1. Monitor your children's internet activity at all times.
2. Use the Securly Parent Portal to monitor your child's activity on district devices. Read more info about the Securly Parent Portal here.
3. Purchase a monitoring tool, such as the Securly Hub, that allows you to track your child's activity on your own devices at home.

Thank you for allowing us to be your partners in keeping children safe online.

Additional Resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Common Sense Media is a useful resource for staying up to date on potential dangers for children online, with valuable advice on how to approach these topics with children.

In the event of an immediate life-threatening situation, please contact your local law enforcement agency by calling 911.