GARDAI are urging parents across Ireland to keep a close eye on their children’s social media activity.
The call comes in the wake of the ‘Momo Challenge’ a new cyberbullying game that targets young and vulnerable people online.
Using a character called Momo, the game encourages players to perform a series of dangerous tasks including disturbing acts of self-harm.
The Garda Síochána Laois Offaly issued a warning to parents via Facebook in a post that read:
“There is a "game" doing the rounds on social media platforms at the minute called "momo" which appears to target children or vulnerable people.
“The momo challenge is a form of cyberbullying where momo asks to be contacted through a social media site and then asks the person to perform a series of dangerous tasks including self-harm.
“There is a disturbing image of momo online that parents should make themselves familiar with.
“Please always supervise your children or those that are vulnerable while online.
"As parents, its all too easy sometimes to hand over a device to a child for that few minutes peace but there can be devastating consequences if they are left unsupervised.”
Speaking to BreakingNews.ie, Professor Mary Aiken from UCD's Geary Institute for Public Policy explained how the Momo Challenge can escalate.
"It's a risk-taking, dare-based challenge where a child is targeted over a particular period of time and sent various challenges over say a 40 or 50-day period," she said.
"Effectively it can start with something relatively minor, like 'jump off a small wall' through to cutting, through to more serious acts of self-harm."
Anyone who spots something suspicious online is being encouraged to report any offending posts immediately.