A toy or character named ‘Huggy Wuggy’ wouldn’t immediately cause worry or strike fear in a parent of a young child. The name seems innocent, but a quick Google search of Huggy Wuggy would reveal a sinister character with long limbs, rows of sharp teeth lining two mouths, and googly eyes.
As you would rightly suspect, Huggy Wuggy wasn’t made for children’s entertainment. Nevertheless, reports spreading rapidly worldwide claim that children know about Huggy Wuggy and are being negatively influenced by the character. These reports originated in the UK and have reached the United States.
This piece looks at the origins of Huggy Wuggy, the disturbing stories surrounding the character, the opinions of experts about the Huggy Wuggy panic, and the responses by various platforms about Huggy Wuggy.
Huggy Wuggy is a horror game character created by MOB Games
Huggy Wuggy is a character in a horror game made by MOB Games titled Poppy Playtime. The game is available on Steam, iOS, and Android and is rated 12.
In the game, a former toy store factory worker returns to find the site abandoned. However, the employee isn’t alone: characters like Huggy Wuggy strive to capture him and kill him before he figures a way out of the factory.
According to fan lore, Huggy Wuggy was the most successful toy of the now-defunct factory. However, in a failed attempt to modify the toy, the company introduced a corrupted human conscience into Huggy Wuggy, turning the fun-loving toy into a monster.
Characters like Huggy Wuggy have made Poppy Playtime very popular. The game’s popularity led to the creation of fan songs and videos about the characters, some of which you can find on YouTube.
One video shows Huggy Wuggy chasing beloved character Peppa Pig as terrifying music plays in the background. However, the video’s labeled 13+ and isn’t available on YouTube Kids.
A viral fan song linked to the character features the following lyrics: “I could hug you here forever, till you breathe your last breath together”
The song’s creator, a YouTuber named TryHardNinja, clarified on Reddit that the song was his creation and had no connection to the game’s creators. He denied that Huggy Wuggy sings the songs in the game.
“This is something I made up inspired by the lore of the game. It is accurate to something he might sing based on his backstory in the game,” Ninja wrote. He insisted that he’d marked the video as unsafe for kids before the upload, blocking its appearance on the YouTube Kids application.
A Facebook post claimed that a school had sent warnings to parents about Huggy Wuggy
The post that sparked the online panic about Huggy Wuggy went live on 22nd March 2022. A mother claimed that she’d received a warning from her child’s school asking parents to prevent their children from accessing Huggy Wuggy content.
“The character can be easily viewed on YouTube channels and is a teddy bear with razor sharp teeth that sings worrying songs about hugging and killing,” the message from school read. “On one of the videos, the bear asks the viewer to take their last breath.”
A couple of weeks later, Dorset Live reported that Dorset Police had issued a warning about Huggy Wuggy. The report claimed that Huggy Wuggy content had prompted kids to act out the character’s actions on playgrounds.
“There are videos people have made, songs people have made, and it’s popping up all over YouTube and Tik Tok using this quite graphic imagery of this bear-like character with razor sharp teeth,” Chris Conroy of Dorset Police said. “It’s based around jump scares and things you certainly wouldn’t want children exposed to.”
Conroy stated that harmful videos about Huggy Wuggy can ‘slip through’ into children’s content as there’s nothing apparently sinister about the character. He warned parents that YouTube Kids’ filters aren’t foolproof and can expose kids to Huggy Wuggy content.
Rhia Fearn, a mom of two, told Dorset Live that she learned of Huggy Wuggy through her son and innocently thought Huggy Wuggy was a harmless character. She later learned through her five-year-old son that Huggy was a baddie who killed people. She said:
“It’s based around jump scares and things you certainly wouldn’t want children exposed to. Kids want to play the games of Huggy Wuggy, they are talking about it in the playground. It’s really frightening as a lot of parents will be oblivious to this level of violence our children are being exposed to.”
Another mother claimed that her son almost jumped out of a window due to Huggy Wuggy
Dorset Live quoted another parent who saw Huggy Wuggy as the online version of the Killer Clown. Justine Brown, the head at a primary school in England, said that teachers had observed students mimicking Huggy Wuggy by hugging and ‘whispering nasty things.’
“It is a very deceiving character, as hugs should be seen as something kind and loving, and because of its cute name, it can infiltrate firewalls and filters,” Justine said. “Please be vigilant about what your children are watching.”
Perhaps the most concerning report about the influence of Huggy Wuggy on children came from a mother who claimed that her child almost jumped out of a window due to the character.
Beth Buxton told Sky News that her three-year-old son became obsessed with Huggy Wuggy after watching the character’s videos online. Buxton also said that her son had seen Huggy Wuggy on Roblox.
“He got to the stage where he didn’t know the difference between reality and gaming,” Buxton told Sky News. “He tried to climb up my bedroom window, saying he would die and come back to life telling me that’s what Huggy Wuggy does.”
Beth said she’d banned Roblox, activated restrictions on YouTube, and scheduled the installation of window locks as her son was ‘still thinking about it.’
“There are numerous terrifying characters in these games,” she added. “He was going into school talking about killing and guns as if it was happening at home.”
The Sky News report featured a statement from West View Primary School in Hartlepool telling parents that Huggy Wuggy ‘sings worrying songs about hugging and killing.’ The statement added:
“In one of the videos, the bear asks the viewer to take their last breath. It is a very deceiving character, as hugs should be seen as something kind and love and because of its name is able to infiltrate firewalls and filters.”
Experts doubt that children have access to terrifying Huggy Wuggy content
An investigation by Rolling Stone didn’t find Huggy Wuggy videos on YouTube Kids. The term Huggy Wuggy appeared blocked by YouTube. Rolling Stone found Huggy Wuggy videos on TikTok but didn’t find anything remotely terrifying or harmful to children.
Furthermore, a TikTok spokesperson told the outlet that TikTok’s version of the app for users under 13 had no Huggy Wuggy content. The findings contradicted multiple assertions by parents and schools that Huggy Wuggy videos had ‘infiltrated firewalls and filters.’
Benjamin Radford, a researcher for the Committee for Skeptic Inquiry, told Rolling Stone that the ‘notion of hidden danger’ had exaggerated reports of dangerous Huggy Wuggy influences on kids.
Joe Ondrak, the head of investigations for Logically, equated the Huggy Wuggy story to a classic creepypasta. Creepypasta fiction stories emerge from real-life reports – for example, the March 2022 Facebook post.
Unfortunately, some people fail to differentiate between fact and fiction due to the stories’ links to reality. Ondrak told Rolling Stone:
“From there, people took it at face value and this idea that there’s a disturbing character on YouTube Kids corrupting young vulnerable children. From there, people took it at face value and this idea that there’s a disturbing character on YouTube Kids corrupting young vulnerable children.”
A report by Snopes dismissed the notion that inappropriate Huggy Wuggy videos may ‘slip through the cracks.’ The outlet said video uploaders must select whether the video is suited to kids viewing. If unsuitable for kids, the videos don’t appear on YouTube Kids.
Platforms have encouraged parents to be vigilant and use safeguards to control children’s online content
Rolling Stone found that though online platforms have safeguards preventing kids from accessing harmful content, children can still unwittingly stumble on such content online due to insufficient parental supervision and algorithm glitches.
Furthermore, some ill-intentioned creators can take advantage of the panic to target children. Joe Ondrak said:
“Any disturbing media online that plays at boundaries between fact and fiction and develops a fan base that either is or isn’t in on the act, runs the risk of spilling over and affecting vulnerable people who mistake fiction for reality. And then tragedy can occur.”
A YouTube spokesperson told Sky News that harmful Huggy Wuggy videos aren’t available on YouTube Kids. The spokesperson urged parents to use parental controls to filter the content available to their kids:
“Additionally, on YouTube Kids, all of our parental controls are free for parents to customize the experience for their children, enabling them to control what they can or cannot see. This includes the ability to handpick the content, choose content levels by age, to block content, and more.”
A Roblox spokesperson urged gamers and parents to report any content or behavior making them feel uncomfortable. Like YouTube, Roblox encouraged parents to use parental controls to monitor their children’s experience on the platform:
“We also empower and encourage parents to determine what is appropriate for their children by providing a suite of Parental Control settings that can be used to restrict who children can interact with, what experiences they can access, and how much they can spend.”
Not Clear? Read this: Is Huggy Wuggy real? Confusing details behind the moral panic explained