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posted Mar 3, 2019, 12:20 PM by Designer Stevie Remsberg

THE BUZZ.....

March 4, 2019

Dear Families,

I’m sending a big shout out to our amazing parents for putting on the Annual Magic Show!! Our community is grateful for all the effort and teamwork!

Congratulations to the Earth School band for performing at the Battle of the District One Bands on Sunday. Our student talent show, Open Mic at Night is on March 19. Permission Slips went out last week and are due by Friday, 3/8.

I wrote earlier in the week about a particular form of cyberbullying in which an animated character called Momo is inserted into children’s programs on YouTube. The “Momo Challenge” targets children by commanding them to perform dangerous dares while threatening them with dire consequences for not obeying or for telling their parents! In addition to YouTube, many children are hearing about it through parent conversations, social media, their peers, and the news.

On Friday, I spoke to a few second graders who were absolutely terrified by the Momo character shown on news reports and by their parents in an effort to warn them. These children firmly believed that the character was alive inside computers and devices. When I described it as a prank, they fearfully insisted that it was real. I spent quite a bit of time explaining and demonstrating that it is fairly simple to edit digital animation clips onto an existing show and upload it back onto YouTube. I highly doubt that I was able to convince them enough to erase their anxiety, but it was a start. They then volunteered several other characters from video games, the internet, and movies that were also causing them tremendous fear.

I am reminded of how vulnerable elementary school children are to being frightened. Children have soaring imaginations and are still learning to discern fantasy from reality. Furthermore, their knowledge of the world is limited leaving them susceptible to believing what they “see” online and in films. In spite of this, children may be initially drawn to viewing disturbing content. For some children, exposure to highly frightening content may lead to long-lasting anxiety, sleep disturbances, nightmares, phobias, and may diminish their general sense of safety and security.

I urge parents to closely monitor children’s online viewing and to limit children’s exposure to frightening content via video games and movies. Until the Momo scam is contained, I recommend avoiding YouTube. If you want to discuss the scam with your child, please avoid sharing the actual images or audio. If suspect that your child is experiencing anxiety, please contact me so I can provide resources to help.

Warmest regards, Abbe
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