Momo and Cyber Security Awareness for parents from a top cyber security expert.
I just wanted to chime in here on all the media attention that has been going around about this app called Momo. As I work in Cyber Security, I downloaded this app to review and what I found is not as straight forward as we think.
This is an extremely creepy app and this is the intention of the app.
The app does have a chat room function, and this is how the sickos are targeting children. The reason I wanted to write this is that a parent may have seen the app on their device and thought “I will delete it now and everything is safe.” This app is just a way to make the first contact; they are prompting people/children to chat with them on WhatsApp/Viber etc. so this concern extends beyond a single app. As stated, this app is odd and creepy as hell, and where better to find sadistic sickos, yes an app like this.
It is also worth noting; these sickos can also be on Hello Kitty or some other similar app that we as parents are under the false illusion is a safe place. The hard truth is that it is down to us as parents to monitor what our children are doing online. While we all know it is easy to say “here just have the phone/tablet/laptop, it will give me some peace.” The fact that these sickos are talking to someone you love that is sitting upstairs in there safe and warm bedroom or even sitting beside us on the sofa is an all too true reality.
The best advice I can give is, awareness, monitoring and awareness. Let your children know that you can lift the device from them at any time to check it, and do this, making the point clear. Know the password to all devices they have access to. Warn them about talking to strangers online, it may scare them but this is the world we live in, they need to know this. Ensure they ask you if they can add a new friend to anything, even tell them to let you know if someone was added to a group that they might not have control over.
I no longer recommend YouTube Kids, there seems to be a lot of bad things happening within this app also, please avoid.
Install ‘Kiddle’ as a search engine supported by Google. As always, limit the time they are on it, do not allow the going to bed and fall asleep with it in their hand approach as this is when they could be most defiant.
In brief these are my top 5 tips to start today:
• Make a rule, your kids must ask you if they can add a friend, to anything (even if they know them from school)
• Randomly check their devices, in front of them for chats, new apps, pictures, etc.
• Limit time on the device; do not allow it in bed at night.
• Use children-friendly apps like ‘Kiddle’ as a search engine supported by Google.
• Do not allow installing of apps from anywhere on the internet; only allow from Play Store/Apples App Store.
Last note: ensure they know that they can always talk to you and won’t get punished if they tell you something bad. I say this as I seen a cyber case where a sicko told the victim that they would tell their parents if they did not do x, y, and z.
Stay safe all, eliminate the “what if I had done..”
Reminder, I no longer recommend you tube kids. Remove YouTube Kids, do not use this app. It is not safe.
I would also like to highlight the fact that yes this post does look at the app called Momo, and as stated it is creepy as hell. But the main message I wanted to get across to everyone is that we need to monitor and create awareness with our children. If we tackle this, we/they will be able to deal with this kind of thing happening in all situations.