Why some challenges are now banned from YouTube

Arjun Ram
Story by Arjun Ram and CBC Kids News • 2019-04-10 08:00

Viral challenges can be uplifting, too

YouTube has made a bold move to ban a whole category of popular videos: dangerous challenges and pranks.

Some YouTube challenges are “really bad,” said Callum Prendergast, a Grade 4 student from Hamilton, Ont.

YouTube, which makes money from advertisers when videos go viral, seems to agree.

The platform, which is owned by Google, announced in January that it was going to start blocking videos that might put people in physical or emotional danger — even if they’re popular.

Callum Predergast plays on a gaming console.

Callum Prendergast, nine, says he and his friends discovered some scary Momo Challenge images on an iPad during their lunch break. (David Mewa/CBC)

Prendergast had first-hand experience with a scary video while he was eating lunch with friends and they decided to look up something called the Momo Challenge on an iPad.

“I went home and I was telling my parents, ‘You need to look this up,’” he said, “‘I'm super scared.’”

Turns out, the Momo Challenge is more rumour than fact.

The rumour is that Momo — a creepy sculpture with a stretched-out face and bulging eyes — would pop up in the middle of a video aimed at kids and order them to do violent and dangerous things.

If they didn’t, the story was that Momo would find a way to hurt them or their loved ones.

Although people continue to share images of the creepy Momo character, YouTube has said it hasn’t found any evidence of real Momo Challenge videos on the platform.

If it did, YouTube said it would remove the videos under the new rules banning dangerous challenges.

Kids dump buckets of ice water over their heads.

Teens in South Africa participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge, which has raised millions for research into a disease called ALS. (Jennifer Bruce/AFP/Getty Images)

Of course, not all challenges that go viral are dangerous. Some are silly and fun.

The Ice Bucket Challenge, which encouraged people to dump buckets of ice water over their heads, raised a lot of money for research into a disease called ALS.


If you’re asked to do a dangerous challenge, trust your gut, said child psychologist Rebecca Pillai Riddell.

“If you have hesitation, there’s a reason,” she said.

Pillai Riddell suggested talking to an adult you trust about the situation.

You can also text or call Kids Help Phone any time, day or night, at 1-800-668-6868.

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About the Contributor

Arjun Ram
Arjun Ram
CBC Kids News Contributor
Arjun Ram is a Grade 11 French immersion student from Hamilton, Ont., with many diverse interests such as sports, music and math. Arjun has developed an interest in reporting on social and political issues as well as important developments in the area of professional sports. He hopes to one day work as a news anchor for CBC.

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