MISSOULA - Officials are asking parents to look out for a potentially deadly social media challenge known as the “Momo Challenge."
The Momo Challenge is a form of cyber bullying that sends graphic threats to users on WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is a free messaging app that allows people to send text messages, video, and voice calls.
Reports say the WhatsApp user "Momo" has threatened and bullied people across the world into doing unsafe tasks, resulting in the suicides of two teenagers in the South American country of Colombia.
Children are encouraged to message the user "Momo". The account will send threats and dangerous dares telling children they'll be punished by Momo if they fail.
A Missoula police officer says it's all the more reason for parents to monitor their children's online activity.
"Be aware of what your children are doing online, what their activity is like, what they're looking at," says Travis Welsh, public information officer for Missoula police. "Make sure you're aware of all their devices and how they might be connected and what they are connected to."
With the responsibilities of a parent ever changing in the digital age, monitoring what your child can help protect your loved ones and telling them why trends like the Momo Challenge are dangerous can make all the difference.
Mother Jessie Lundberg said she'll adjust the control setting on her daughter's phone to limit what her child has access to.
"When stuff has come up like that I try and talk about it with her, but keeping it on a general, light note," Lundberg says. "Like, 'if you see anything or if something happens, be sure to tell me.' Without getting into detail that makes her more worried."
But some parents like Randy Kline have seen the online brutality first-hand, leading him to keep his children offline until he can educate them about the dangers of the internet.
"I’ve actually experienced some of it myself being an adult. There are a lot of people out there that do not know how to put a filter on their mouth or their hands when they are texting or messaging," Kline said.
Again, it’s really important for parents to control what their kids are doing on the internet or over social media to avoid cyber bullying.
Missoula police urge parents or children who find themselves in a dangerous situation online to contact law enforcement and their local school district.