Why should you be worried about a giant blue teddy-like fluffy toy with a big red smile? Well, there is no need for panic but you do need to be concerned and proactive about Huggy Wuggy.
Huggy Wuggy is a popular character from an online video game but has become a concerning social media trend. Just like the disturbing flow-on effects of Squid Game in some playgrounds, Huggy Wuggy is the latest concern for parents and schools.
Huggy Wuggy sounds soft, cute and cuddly like the character from the children’s song ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy was a Bear’ but the two couldn’t be more different. Huggy Wuggy is the evil villain of the Poppy Playtime video game. Even the title, “Poppy Playtime” sounds innocent enough, like it is a game for children but that is the inherent problem. It is not innocent. It is deceptive and potentially emotionally harmful for children.
Rather than being light-hearted children’s entertainment, Poppy Playtime is a survival game where players have to solve puzzles while being hunted by the evil Huggy Wuggy whose menacing grin opens to dagger-like teeth while he sings about hugging and killing.
If it was just warning parents not to allow their children to play Poppy Playtime or anything with Huggy Wuggy, life would be easy but just like the show Squid Game, the game is just the beginning.
Children are being exposed to the horror themes of Poppy Playtime and Huggy Wuggy on YouTube, TikTok and other social media like Facebook. Parental controls aren’t always filtering them out because the names sound like they are suitable for children.
However, there is nothing cute about the actual game or the parodies and fan art on social media. Some YouTubers show creepy images and try to frighten the viewer by having Huggy Wuggy with his sinister spiked mouth rushing toward the camera. Others have started the trend of children hugging a classmate and then whispering shocking things in their ears.
More than the actual horrible game itself, there are two things that I really hate about Huggy Wuggy.
- The game deliberately chose a deceptive name and character that sounds safe and suitable for children. Whether it was to avoid the parenting filters or in order to be more horrifying, it doesn’t matter. The sheer deception should be enough to warn us that we need to be aware of this game and the makers of it.
- The whole idea of taking something that should be good like a hug and then turning it into something that could be potentially traumatic is intrinsically evil. I know evil is a strong word but deliberately frightening children by offering something comforting like a hug or teddy bear and then using those things to frighten children is what I call evil.
What should you do as parents?
This is just another one of many trends that will continue to make parenting a lot harder than our parents had it. Once this fad has passed, I’m sure it won’t be long before another ‘Huggy Wuggy’ lookalike concern raises its ugly head.
Always know what your children are watching or playing and take the time to research it. It could look innocent at first but down the track, it may introduce something dangerous or allow unsolicited interactions with other players.
Don’t rely on parental controls.
It would be nice if we could just click on one setting and never have to worry about what our children are seeing but that is not the case. Fully use whatever privacy settings and net nannies you have access to but don’t rely on them. Unscrupulous people are always looking for a way around parental controls and it is difficult for technology to keep up with them.
Talk with your children.
I know this is one I repeat a lot however, open conversations with your child about what they are watching, playing or talking about at school are the most important thing you can do to keep your child safe and happy. Whatever new threat arises, talking with your children can nip threats in the bud and minimise potential harm before it becomes a reality. I’ve bolded and italicised the word ‘with’ because it’s not just talking to your children or lecturing them on the dangers of this or that. Neither is it about passively listening as your child talks endlessly about things that don’t seem such a big deal. The key is to engage with each other so both feel heard, understood and accepted.
Don’t punish them when they tell you something.
The number one reason why children don’t tell their parents about something disturbing is that they are worried about being punished by having their technology taken away. Often, when a parent finds out that a child is playing an inappropriate game, they will respond by banning the child from technology for a set amount of time. A better way forward is to have conversations with them about why it is harmful, block that particular game and tell them why you are doing that. Reinforce the fact that you won’t take away their device just because they have told you about something bad or fearful that happened using it. Of course, if they deliberately defy you, then that is a different ball game altogether and taking away access to technology is an entirely appropriate punishment.
Don’t poke the bear.
If your child is young, they may be completely unaware of Huggy Wuggy so don’t raise it with them. Children are innately curious so don’t give them a reason to try and find out more about Huggy Wuggy. Ignorance can be bliss when it comes to protecting our children from harm. Keep your ear to their conversations to see if it is something they may have come across but there is no need to raise their curiosity so they want to look into it more. We will not be talking about Huggy Wuggy in school for this very reason but want parents to be aware of the latest harmful trend doing the rounds.
Mike Curtis, Principal