What is Houji and Ji, the phenomenon that terrifies children and worries parents?

Many parents are sounding the alarm about the Huggy Wuggy phenomenon, which is causing psychological trauma to some children. (© Monkey Business / AdobeStock)

A friendly smile that ends revealing very sharp teethlong fluffy arms and Children’s songs It revolves around violence or murder (“Give me a hug / My teeth will sink deep into your lungs”; “Do you want to know how far I’ll go to find you and start devouring your soul”…) .

over here Huggy Wuggya colorful creature straight out of a horror video game Poppy playing timereleased in 2021. Recently, this fake plush-looking monster became real The phenomenon of social mediaAnd TikTok is in the lead and in the stadiums.

Poppy Playtime video game principle

In this horror and adventure video game, you will play as a former factory worker who makes toys and dolls that are very popular with kids. You must return to the factory when you receive a letter and videotape from an employee who disappeared 10 years ago. Objective: To discover the secrets behind this mysterious disappearance…

But beyond the influence of fashion, the psychological consequences Lots of children: aggression, anxiety, sleep disturbances.. Parents sounding the alarm and calling for vigilance.

“My son is afraid to move around the house on his own”

Six-year-old Francois is one of the children who is traumatized after being confronted by Hugue and Wuji. Last January, they, accompanied by a friend of the same age, came across a video of the blue monster.

“This video showed the character walking through a dark corridor, it was really scary,” he said news.fr Virginie, mother of François. She admits she’s “awkward” by Huggy Wuggy, taken from a video game that’s “very scary at the base.”

It should not happen to young children. It’s as if, as a child, you were sold an exorcist or a Freddy’s doll.

VirginiaFrancois’ mother

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This video deeply distinguishes the two children who make nightmares. But not only: François continues to talk about Huggy Wuggy and Afraid to go home alone. Same goes for her friend, “who didn’t want to sleep alone for several weeks.”

Then things settle down. Until François, who cannot access YouTube without his mother’s consent, comes across videos and other ads about Huggy Wuggy. “He started talking about it nonstop and drawing it again,” said a resident of Bastia (Corsica).

Since he has seen videos in which Huggy Wuggy appears, the character regularly returns in drawings of 6-year-old Francois.
Since he has seen videos in which Huggy Wuggy appears, the character regularly returns in drawings of 6-year-old Francois. (© DR)

An inevitable phenomenon

The problem is The phenomenon now crosses the border Media and the Internet. Huggy Wuggy takes the form of a stuffed animal, key ring, which is displayed as a doll on clothes, sits on birthday cakes, invites itself to coloring pages for children.

Just last week, in the playground of a fast food restaurant, François and his cousin of the same age meet a young boy of the same age. “He had a stuffed animal bigger than him. My cousin started screaming,” Virginia resumes fromnews.frHe and his family had to leave the building.

A gentleman with his son was by his side because his young son was as shocked as Francois. We talked and he told me pretty much my same story. That’s when I realized they were going too far.

VirginiaFrancois’ mother

Without knowing the video game, it’s hard to miss. Even YouTubers are taking over this topic They show themselves as they play Poppy playing time To take advantage of the effect of fashion.

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

Night terrors, nightmares, anxiety…

Since then, many psychologists have spoken out denouncing the consequences of children’s exposure to Houji Wuji. Among those specialists is Belgium-based neuropsychologist Lisette-Angeano.

At the beginning of April, on Facebook, after several children, ages 7 to 12, traumatized at her desk, she split a long letter addressed to the parents. A personal initiative that you detail withnews.fr.

“I saw more and more kids in neuropsychological counseling who talked to me about Huggy Wuggy, regularly coming back in the form of a drawing or clay. ‘The character really occupied their thoughts,'” says the specialist.

In other children who said they were very frightened, sometimes had very violent nightmares (“they were under attack, sometimes with their family”), had trouble sleeping without night lights or who, when Lisette Anjiano-Huji Wuji evokes, had a loosening of the tongues.

I notice emotional disturbances: children who become more irritable, more anxious, irrationally afraid. Some are also more hostile towards others, sometimes to the point of confrontation.

Lizette AnjianoNeuropsychologist

“He is a character created to intimidate.”

You don’t necessarily have to face the Huggy Wuggy. After hearing his classmates recount the videos during recess, sing video game songs that sometimes contain very violent words or bring their stuffed animals bearing the character’s picture, some kids let their imaginations run.

“It is more misleading for the child: Huggy Wuggy takes on the look of a cartoon, but he’s a terrifying character, created to frighten”explains to news.fr Pascaline Bonnet, clinical psychologist based in Marseille. Moreover, the whole point of Poppy playing time that is played in the first person.

But due to its popularity outside the media, it is difficult to rank it. She continued, “This obviously raises the question about the methods used for this character, which do not affect the appropriate audience,” adding that “a child does not have the same acumen as an adult.”

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

VirginiaFrancois’ mother

When the story of the Big Bad Wolf is told, The father is here to tell the storymodify it. And the parent is a well-known figure,” Pascaline Bonnet continues. “The adult reassures, believes. There, the child is alone in front of his screen facing Huggy Wuggy,” adds Lisette Anjiano.

Talk about it to externalize

Dialogue seems to be an indispensable weapon for calming children’s fears. “Robin came home from school yesterday to tell me about the famous Houji Wuji. He doesn’t play any video games, but he hears the kids talking about it, and they draw it…,” Florence explains, in a message posted to Facebook.

Fortunately, this “tired and anxious” mother continues, “She is a child who trusts and talks to me.” Same for Virginie, who realized that she “talks a lot” to François. » “I tell him that Of course he was afraidbecause the video he saw is so scary,” she explains.

His strategy: don’t underestimate Fear, but accompany him, make him understand the reason for her legitimacy and at the same time reassure him about the fictional side of the character. It is very important to the child admit your fear. But he may not be able to do it on his own.

Lisette Anjiano insists that “this is where the adult plays, because the child looks for an authority figure, reassures, listens, accompanies and protects”. An opinion shared by his colleague from Marseille.

The solution is exchange and communication. It may take time, which is the time the children internalize what they have encountered.

Pascaline bonnetClinical Psychologist

Banned in schools

More than two months after her intervention on social networks, Lisette Anjiano found her message still shared and commented on, in Belgium, France and sometimes elsewhere. “Proof that we’re not done hearing this Huggy Wuggy,” the neuropsychologist blasts.

Some schools have chosen to take the lead. In Mouscron (Belgium), near the border, St. Mary’s Elementary School decided to ban Huggy Wuggy from playgrounds.

call him news.frThe director of the enterprise did not want to talk about it.

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

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