A Government minister says there is "no confirmed evidence" the Momo challenge poses a threat to children in the UK.

This week concerned parents have issued warnings about a disturbing online game encouraging children to hurt themselves.

But it is now believed the so-called Momo challenge is actually a hoax.

The game is played via social media platforms including WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube.

It encourages children to hurt themselves after they have been invited to take part by an anonymous controller.

Government ministers and police have called for the issue to spark a debate about internet safety.

MP Douglas Ross said: "May we have a debate about online dangers for young people?

"I have been contacted by a constituent in Moray concerned about growing participation in something called the Momo challenge: young people can be watching various social media platforms and messages pop up urging them to contact a number on WhatsApp which then sends them images and instructions on how to harm themselves and others.

"Unfortunately in some parts of the world this Momo challenge has been linked to young people taking their own lives. May we have a debate and allow the Government to explain what more we can do to protect young people and educate them about the scourge of these online dangers?"

In response Andrea Leadsom said: "My hon. Friend raises an appalling situation; I have also heard of the Momo challenge, and the Government are extremely concerned about it.

"We have been very clear that more needs to be done to protect young people online, including from cyber-bullying and suicide and self-harm content, and internet companies do have a responsibility to their users.

"The forthcoming online harms White Paper will set out a range of legislative and non-legislative measures to keep UK users safe online, but I can say that organisations including the Samaritans, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the UK Safer Internet Centre have said there is no confirmed evidence that the Momo phenomenon is posing a threat to British children."