New fears rise about kids online

Their anxiety about what children are exposed to online can be exploited by misinformed media reports about viral pranks, playing to parents’ worst fears.

This week, local news outlets quickly jumped on an old hoax story alerting parents to a creepy sculpture named “Momo” being spliced into YouTube videos telling young children how to harm themselves.

The stories caused alarm, although there’s no evidence this has actually happened. The drama escalated to the point that YouTube said Friday evening it has stopped running ads with all videos of Momo.

This month, some local authorities warned parents about a supposed social media trend called the “48-Hour Challenge” which encourages teens to go “missing” in an effort to get pickup on social media. But so far, there’s been no credible reports to suggest that any child has gone missing as a result.