The P.S.N.I. has issued an urgent warning about a disturbing 'self-harm game' that encourages young children to harm themselves and in some instances, to take their own lives.
The 'Momo Challenge' has spread at an alarming rate through western Europe and other parts of the world via social media.
"This game conceals itself within other harmless looking games played by our kids," said the P.S.N.I.
"There has also been reports of parts of the game being viewable [sic] on YouTube."
The P.S.N.I. added: "The character in the photo is ‘Momo’ and when downloaded tells your child to communicate with them via WhatsApp and a number of other widely used apps. "Momo" then tells your child to self harm or she will put a curse on them!
"Our [P.S.N.I.] advice as always, is to supervise the games your kids play and be extremely mindful of the videos they are watching on YouTube. Ensure that the devices they have access to are restricted to age suitable content."
A spokesperson for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (N.S.P.C.C.) encouraged parents with any concerns to contact them immediately.
“The constantly evolving digital world means a steady influx of new apps and games and can be hard for parents to keep track of.
“That’s why it’s important for parents to talk regularly with children about these apps and games and the potential risks they can be exposed to.
“The NSPCC publishes advice and guidance for parents on discussing online safety with their children, as well as Net Aware – the UK’s only parental guide to social media and gaming apps.”
"If adults are concerned or have any questions on how to approach the subject with their children you can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or visit the NSPCC website.
"Children who are feeling worried about their activity on apps or online games can contact Childline 24 hours a day, online and over the phone, on 0800 11 11 or by visiting www.childline.org.uk.
A primary school in Northern Ireland also took steps to make parents aware of the game by issuing a warning on Facebook.
"Please beware of what your children are doing online," wrote the school Friday morning.
"This new game 'Momo' has recently come to the UK and encourages children to, amongst other things, harm themselves.
"It also encourages children to keep their activities a secret," added the school.
One Northern Ireland mother was filled with "absolute dread" when she saw traces of the game on her seven year-old daughter's mobile phone recently.
“When I saw it, it filled me with absolute dread," the mother told Belfast Live.
"Internet safety has always been a big thing when my daughter is online and we’ve made sure we always have parental blocks and safety measures in place.
“She doesn’t know how to download anything and even if she tries to, a text message is sent to my partner’s phone so he’d know about it," she added.
There have also been cases reported in the Republic of Ireland.
How does it work?
Children are encouraged to contact something called Momo by sending a message using WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media platforms.
The child then receives menacing threats to his or her phone and are coerced into carrying out a series of dangerous and often violent acts.
The person operating Momo will ask the child to submit photographs to prove they had completed the tasks.
If the child does not comply the person operating Momo begins to bombard the child's phone with threatening and often disturbing messages and images.
The suicide of a 12 year-old girl in Argentina was linked to the 'Momo Challenge' in 2018.