There have been rising concerns nationally about a horror game character called Huggy Wuggy.
There are multiple risks that can arise from children and young people being exposed to frightening content before they are prepared including-
Added anxiety and stress – Children and young people are still growing and learning. They may not be at a level of emotional maturity that would be able to process frightening content, even if it is intentional. Horror games could hamper that growth by creating unnecessary anxiety and stress.
Intrusive thoughts – Everyone has the ‘thing that goes bump in the night.’ If children play this game or watch it, the Boogeyman could easily be replaced with characters like Huggy Wuggy. This could cause children to lose focus or sleep and could interrupt family rest cycles.
New fears – The manipulation of child-friendly items into threatening characters exploits the sense of security a child would feel around these things. They may suddenly be terrified of something that had never been a worry before.
Top Tips for helping the child or young person in your care
If your child hasn’t mentioned Huggy Wuggy or Poppy Playtime, don’t name it. You may pique their curiosity which in turn could lead to them searching out the content for themselves on platforms they might have access to.
If you hear a child in your care mention Huggy Wuggy, pause and remain calm. It could be that they have overheard conversation about in school or online, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have viewed content or have a full understanding of who Huggy Wuggy is.
Ask them about the content they enjoy watching online, and if anything they’ve seen has ever made them or their friends upset or scared.
If they have seen anything upsetting, reassure them that they are safe. It’s important children know they can come and speak to you without fear of judgement. If necessary, ask them to show you the video or game, and follow appropriate reporting procedures if you are concerned.
If you see content on social media or in the news regarding Huggy Wuggy or Poppy Playtime, think before you share it publicly. It may be more helpful to share a credible article with practical advice privately, e.g. through private messaging.
Talk about Trusted Adults to teach young people about the importance of seeking help if something worries or upset them.
If your child is having nightmares or is anxious about something they’ve watched, it’s important to have a conversation about expressing their feelings.