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(Pocket-lint) - If you are a parent or just read a newspaper, you will have no doubt heard of the "evil" Momo Challenge. A scary face pops up on children's WhatsApp feeds challenging them to a game that involves the encouragement to commit suicide or cause self harm.

Although it doesn't. There is no evidence whatsoever of it having any effect on kids, claim child safety experts. It is hoax designed to cause mass hysteria and panic amongst the media and, therefore, parents. And it has worked.

Charities in the UK even claim that the fallout is more harmful than the Momo Challenge itself.

As reported by The Guardian, both the highly-respected Samaritans and the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) have researched the Momo Challenge thoroughly and there is no evidence it has caused harm. Indeed, they advise that the media hysteria itself could be encouraging people to think about self harm.

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The UK Safer Internet Centre has labelled the Momo Challenge as "fake news", while YouTube has not found any instances of it being uploaded or inserted into videos, regardless of unsubstantiated reports that it had appeared during an episode of Peppa Pig on the platform.

"Currently we’re not aware of any verified evidence in this country or beyond linking Momo to suicide," said a Samaritans spokesperson to The Guardian.

"What’s more important is parents and people who work with children concentrate on broad online safety guidelines."

Kate Tremlett, harmful content manager at the UK Safer Internet Centre, calls for calm: "It’s a myth that is perpetuated into being some kind of reality," she said.

Writing by Rik Henderson. Originally published on 28 February 2019.