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The adult horror fantasy game, developed by MOB Games, follows a young girl trapped in an abandoned factory as an ominous figure, Huggy Wuggy, begins chasing her.
Huggy is a blue teddy bear with terrifying, blood-stained sharp teeth who sings songs about hugging and killing people.
Yikes, times a thousand.
The game became an instant hit, and a lot of that success is attributed to its iconic villain.
While the game doesn’t have an official age rating, Poppy’s Playtime creators have targeted the game toward adolescents rather than young children, as per Maltby Lilly Hall Academy.
As a result, children are mimicking the behaviour of the murderous teddy bear, singing his song ‘Free Hugs’ on the playground, which has left their peers terrified.
Schools have issued warnings alerting parents that character is having negative effects on children while eliciting anti-social behaviours.
One Adelaide primary school wrote a letter to parents: “Kids as young as five have been playing games in the playground hugging each other and whispering frightening lyrics such as 'hugging you to death' and 'till you breathe your last breath', leaving many upset.”
Schools in the UK have also notified parents to be super vigilant while monitoring the types of games their children are playing, according to Manchester Evening News.
Cyber protection expert Chris Conroy said to 7 News: “It really comes down to paying attention of what your children are doing and making sure they are not just trusting YouTube Kids videos are safe because unfortunately with videos like this, things do slip through the cracks.”
South Australian Primary Principals Association president Angela Falkenberg spoke to ABC News about its influence on children.
She said: "What children have been doing is giving each other hugs but whispering creepy things in their ears, because that's what Huggy Wuggy does.
"I know from chatting with one principal this morning that some children are quite terrified."
However, Falkenberg said parents should openly talk with their kids rather than sparking ‘moral panic’.
She said: “Huggy Wuggy himself does look pretty scary. You can see his song on YouTube, which is very catchy but has a very unhappy ending.
"If you hear about it, talk about it.”
Australian Council on Children and the Media president, Professor Elizabeth Handsley, said parents should be ready to chat about the topic with their kids.
But be wary of planting the seed as Prof Handsley warns 'you can [inadvertently] raise the child's curiosity, so the child is motivated to then go and look for that stuff'.
She told the ABC: "Maybe try to bring up more generally: 'Do you ever see anything on the media that makes you feel scared? Do you see kids playing games in the playground that are based on things they've seen on YouTube or TikTok?'"
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