The real Momo Chal­lenge

Sun.Star Pampanga - - STORIES! -

PvideosEOPLE are pan­ick­ing over the re­cently vi­ral news of “Momo” -- where in the mid­dle of a sup­pos­edly child-friendly video, there would be in­struc­tions for the viewer to hurt them­selves. Par­ents are con­cerned and are sud­denly ban­ning Youtube or out­right ban­ning de­vices al­to­gether.

While this may un­der­stand­ably be a con­cern for par­ents, I would think that ban­ning is the wrong ap­proach.

Af­ter all, look at all the things that were banned by your par­ents and by so­ci­ety be­cause such things were “not good for you.” Some­how you still man­aged to sneak past and en­joy those things -- I’m talk­ing about to­bacco, al­co­hol, drugs, pornog­ra­phy, gam­bling, and all the many other things that were banned.

Ban­ning does not an­swer why things are wrong or why peo­ple are bet­ter off not do­ing them. It sim­ply raises more ques­tions and height­ens cu­rios­ity. And we all know what what hap­pens when peo­ple are over­come with cu­rios­ity.

No, the real Momo chal­lenge is not how to stop this thing, or how to pre­vent this from spread­ing, or how to pre­vent kids from see­ing it; the real chal­lenge is how to teach our kids to think crit­i­cally, how to trust them to do the right thing, and how to ask re­lent­less ques­tions with­out fear of be­ing shushed.

Un­less we teach our kids that, we will al­ways be look­ing over their shoul­ders, won­der­ing what they are read­ing or what they are watch­ing or what they are lis­ten­ing to. But if we know they have a good head on their shoul­ders (and most of them do) we can trust them to do the right thing no mat­ter what.

Be­cause trust me, this Momo thing is not new. It is merely the lat­est fad, and there will al­ways be some­thing that will come up later just as there were al­ways things like this in the past -- like that video en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to ran­domly hit strangers as hard as they can, then run away, or that danc­ing while the car is run­ning video, or peo­ple climb­ing sky­scrapers and do­ing dan­ger­ous stunts high up in the air.

You can­not ever hope to ban ev­ery­thing and un­less you plan on stay­ing be­side your chil­dren and mon­i­tor­ing them 24/7, you had bet­ter learn to teach them to think and to han­dle re­spon­si­bil­ity, and to trust them, even as early as 4 years old.

If you doubt that chil­dren can han­dle that sort of re­spon­si­bil­ity, con­sider that in what we call “prim­i­tive” so­ci­eties, chil­dren are trained as young as pos­si­ble in per­form­ing du­ties for the good of so­ci­ety. In more mod­ern times, bil­lion­aire Richard Bran­son talks about the “most im­por­tant les­son of his life” hap­pen­ing at age 4, when his mother dropped him off miles from their home, in an area where he had never been.

She asked if he knew how to find his way home, and he said yes, and so she trusted him and let him do it. By age 12, Richard was bik­ing alone at dis­tances of over a hun­dred miles. He dropped out of col­lege and never stepped foot in col­lege. By 16, he had started his first busi­ness. To­day he owns the Vir­gin Group and is worth 4.1 bil­lion dol­lars.

Teach your kids to think, then trust them. Eas­ier said than done. But that’s the chal­lenge.

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