What is Huggy Wuggy, the phenomenon that scares children and worries parents?

Many parents sound the alarm about the Huggy Wuggy phenomenon, which causes psychological trauma in some children. (© Monkey Business / AdobeStock)

A friendly smile that ends up revealing very sharp teethlong airy arms and childish songs which is actually about violence or murder (“Give me a hug / My teeth will sink so deep into your lungs”; “Do you want to know how far I am willing to go to find you and start consuming your soul” …).

Here is Huggy Wuggya colorful creature right out of the horror video game Poppy Playtimereleased in 2021. Lately, this monster with fake plush look has become a real one social media phenomenonTikTok at the helm and on the playgrounds.

The principle of the video game Poppy Playtime

In this horror-adventure video game, you take on the role of a former factory worker making toys and dolls that are very popular with children. You must return to the factory when you receive a letter and videotape from an employee who disappeared 10 years ago. Goal: to discover the secrets behind this mysterious disappearance …

But behind the fashion effect psychological consequences are numerous for children: aggression, anxiety, sleep disorders … Parents sound the alarm and call for vigilance.

“My son is afraid to move around the house alone”

Six-year-old François is one of the children traumatized after being confronted by Huggy Wuggy. Last January, along with a friend her age, they came across a video of the blue monster.

“This video showed the character going through a kind of dark hallway, it was really scary,” he tells news.fr Virginie, François’ mother. She admits that she herself is “embarrassed” about Huggy Wuggy, taken from a video game “really very creepy at the base.”

It must not happen to small children. It’s like I’ve been sold, as a kid, the exorcist, or Freddy’s doll.

VirginiaFrancois’ mother

Videos: currently on Actu

This video deeply marks the two kids doing Nightmares. But not only that: François keeps talking about Huggy Wuggy and afraid to go home alone. The same goes for her friend, “who would not sleep alone for many weeks.”

Things work out then. Until François, who does not have access to YouTube without his mother’s consent, encounters other videos and commercials about Huggy Wuggy. “He started talking about it nonstop and drawing it again,” says this resident of Bastia (Corsica).

Since watching videos with Huggy Wuggy, the character returns regularly in the drawings of François, 6 years old.
Since watching videos with Huggy Wuggy, the character returns regularly in the drawings of François, 6 years old. (© DR)

An inevitable phenomenon

The problem is that the phenomenon now crosses borders media and the internet. Huggy Wuggy has the shape of a stuffed animal, a keychain, appears as a picture on clothes, sits on birthday cakes and even invites itself into children’s coloring pages.

Last week, on the playground of a fast food restaurant, François and a cousin of the same age crossed a little boy of the same age. “He had a stuffed animal that was bigger than him. My cousin’s daughter started screaming, ”Virginie resumesnews.frforced to leave the premises with his family.

There was a gentleman with his son who was out of his mind because his little boy had been traumatized as François. We talked and he told me pretty much the same story as mine. That was when I realized they were going too far.

VirginiaFrancois’ mother

Without knowing the video game, hard to miss. Even YouTubers are taking over the subject and stage themselves by playing Poppy Playtime to take advantage of the fashion effect.

This is the case, for example, with Locklear (1.46 million subscribers) or Furious Jumper (4.16 million subscribers), with their videos titled “THE FEAR OF MY LIFE (Poppy Playtime)” and “NEVER GO to this TOY FACTORY”, respectively. . »

Night terror, nightmares, anxiety …

Several psychologists have since spoken out to condemn the consequences of this exposure of children to Huggy Wuggy. Among these specialists is neuropsychologist Lizette Anguiano based in Belgium.

In early April, after several children aged 7 to 12 years were traumatized, she shared on Facebook a long message intended for parents. A personal initiative that she elaborates onnews.fr.

“I saw more and more children in neuropsychological consultation, who talked to me about Huggy Wuggy, where he regularly came back in the form of a drawing or modeling clay. The character really occupied their thoughts, “says the specialist.

In other children who said they were very scared, sometimes had very violent nightmares (“they were attacked, sometimes with their family”), had trouble sleeping without a night light, or who had changed their behavior when Lizette Anguiano evokes Huggy Wuggy, tongues loosen.

I observe emotional disturbances: children who become more irritable, more anxious, have an irrational fear. Some are also more hostile to others, sometimes to confrontation.

Lizette AnguianoNeuropsychologist

“He is a character created to scare”

It is not necessary to have been confronted with Huggy Wuggy. After hearing classmates talk about the videos during recess, singing video game songs with sometimes very violent lyrics, or bringing their stuffed animals that carry the character’s image, some children let their imagination work.

“It’s all the more misleading for the child: Huggy Wuggy looks like a cartoon, but he is a horror character, created to scare ”explains to news.fr Pascaline Bonnet, clinical psychologist based in Marseille. By the way, that’s the whole point Poppy Playtime which is played in the first person.

But given its popularity beyond the media, it’s even harder to fix. “It obviously raises the question of the techniques used for this character, which do not affect the right audience,” she continues, adding that “a child does not have the same judgment as an adult.”

It’s not a video for kids his age, because they do not yet know the difference between fiction and reality. The adults know it’s not real. When he grows up, he will better understand that there was no reason to be afraid because it does not exist.

VirginiaFrancois’ mother

“When the story of the great evil wolf is told, the parent is there to introduce the story, modulate it. And the parent is a well-known figure, ”continues Pascaline Bonnet. “The adult calms, ensures. There is the child alone in front of his screen facing Huggy Wuggy, ”adds Lizette Anguiano.

Talk about it to exterior

Dialogue seems to be an indispensable weapon in calming children’s anxiety. “Robin came home from school yesterday and told me about the famous Huggy Wuggy. He does not play any video games, but he hears children talk about what draws it … ”, Florence illustrates in a message posted on Facebook.

Fortunately, this “tired and worried” mother continues, “it is a child who confides and speaks to me.” The same for Virginie, who acknowledges that she and François “talk a lot.” “I’m telling him that it is normal that he was scaredfor the video he saw is very scary, ”she explains.

His strategy: do not minimize fear, but follow him, make him understand why it is legitimate, and reassure him at the same time about the fictional aspect of the character. It is very important that the child admit your own fears. But he may not be able to do it alone.

“This is where the adult comes into play because the child is looking for an authority figure, reassuring, to listen to him, accompany him, protect him,” Lizette Anguiano insists. An opinion shared by his colleague from Marseille.

The solution is exchange, communication. It can take time, the time the children digest what they have been confronted with.

Pascaline BonnetClinical psychologist

Prohibited in schools

More than two months after her intervention on social networks, Lizette Anguiano discovers that her message is still shared and commented on in Belgium, France and sometimes elsewhere. “Proof we’re not done hearing about this Huggy Wuggy,” the neuropsychologist blows.

Some schools have chosen to take the lead. In Mouscron (Belgium), near the border, Sainte-Marie Elementary School has decided to ban Huggy Wuggy from playgrounds.

Contacted by news.frthe director of the establishment has not wished to comment on this subject.

The video game publisher, MOB Games, has not yet responded to our requests.

Was this article helpful to you? Note that you can follow Actu in the My Actu room. With a single click, after registration, you will find all the news about your favorite cities and brands.

Leave a Comment