The Internet Age has made it much harder to tell what is real. “Fake news” is a modern catchphrase although, alas, liars are just as likely to use it as those who tell the truth.
The discovery that the ‘Momo challenge’ – supposedly an online game that encouraged suicide – was a hoax came well after it had created a moral panic among concerned parents that was amplified by some schools and the media.
If there is a lesson to learn from this malicious prank, it is that we all need to raise our standards of proof – the way in which we decide whether something is true – to take account of the very different environment we are now living in.
And, even though Momo was not real, we should also be aware that the internet is a place where such sinister material can be found.
Those who grew up before the internet need to educate themselves about this new reality to avoid falling foul of those who would deceive us.
And parents need to talk to their children to help them navigate safely through the hazards of the online world – without gaining the impression that it is uniformly hostile and a place to be feared.