News that struck fear into parents of young children hit the headlines this week, with revelations that video footage of a scary, bulging-eyed, doll-like figure is being inserted into YouTube videos aimed at young children.
The videos have been dubbed the ‘suicide game’ as the figure appeals to children to add a contact on messaging service WhatsApp, before hounding them with violent images and dares, urging children to commit self-harm and ultimately take their own lives.
The use of social media and online resources are an irreversible part of the modern world but have grown quicker than regulators and parents can often keep track.
Online platform The Collate Loop is tackling these issues by harnessing the positive aspects of the digital world and creating a ‘safe space’, which allows school-age children to be taught how to use social media in a safe and responsible way.
The Collate Loop offers a digital platform where students (as well as parents, teachers, school leaders and governors) can communicate online in open, closed or private groups, each monitored by an approved administrator within the school.
Nefarious activities, such as the recent, 'Momo challenge' are protected against as all user profiles have the ability to be vetted by stakeholders of the school. They are then able to flag any potential issues, such as trolling, safeguarding concerns or inappropriate use of the platform through the correct channels.
Police in Northern Ireland have issued a statement through Facebook, stating ‘This is merely a current, attention-grabbing example of the minefield that is online communication for kids … In 2017, it was “Blue Whale”, now it's “Momo”. There'll be something else next.’
The police have stated that the Momo attack is likely the work of hackers looking to mine data and have urged parents to monitor children online use.
The Collate Loop allows parents to do this whilst still allowing children to develop valuable IT skills.
Martyn Allan the director of The Collate Loop says: ‘Stories such as the Momo challenge are truly sickening. Children are far more open to instruction and peer pressure than adults and whoever is behind this clearly has little regard for life or the consequences of their thoughtless actions.
'Educating children about best practices, along with parents being aware of what their children are accessing, have an important part to play. We must also look to new technology which allows these lessons to be learnt in a safe and protected environment.’
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