All of a sudden, TikTok and YouTube are filled with videos featuring a terrifying character named Huggy Wuggy. Don’t let the name fool you, this big blue bear isn’t something you’d want to cuddle at night. Armed with a set of razor-sharp teeth and a sinister smile, he originated from the 2021 horror video game, Poppy Playtime. Within the game, this giant bear stalks you through an abandoned toy factory whilst you try to make it out of there. As one of the most notable villains in the game, he’s inspired an entire fandom filled with fan-made content. But now kids are stumbling upon this content and ending up terrified, causing schools to send warnings out to parents about the character.
From Slender Man to the Momo Challenge, there’s a long and rich history of creepy internet characters and content freaking out kids. The latest addition to this time-honored tradition is Huggy Wuggy, a big blue bear that likes to give out deadly ‘free hugs’. Since this nightmare-inducing creature goes by the friendly name of Huggy Wuggy, many parents and children have mistaken gameplay videos, fan-made songs, and animations as kid-friendly content.
One of the most notable fan-made Huggy Wuggy videos making the rounds on TikTok and YouTube is the song “Free Hugs” by TryHardNinja. The lyrics, sang from the perspective of Huggy Wuggy, are about offering someone a hug and then killing them. Although TryHardNinja didn’t intend the video for children, it has become the most flagged-up video by schools warning parents about the disturbing lyrics and music video.
How is Huggy Wuggy making his way into kid’s watchlists?
Of course, children get access to all sorts of content their parents might not approve of via the internet. It’s almost part and parcel of growing up with access to the internet from a young age. However, unlike Creepypastas or other horror game characters, Huggy Wuggy is uniquely malicious, because it seems videos about the character can get around many of the child protection filters that exist on YouTube. That likely has a lot to do with his innocent-sounding name, which makes him sound much more harmless than he is.
In the UK, there have been several reports from parents who said that their children had been reciting phrases from the ‘Free Hugs’ song. On top of this, teachers at a handful of primary schools said kids were making up their own playground games based on Huggy Wuggy. Some schools, such as West View Primary School in Hartlepool, have sent home statements to parents warning them about the viral Huggy Wuggy videos. They have asked parents to be vigilant and monitor what their young children are watching on YouTube and TikTok, especially since many of the videos can bypass firewalls and filters on both platforms.
Obviously, parents should always be vigilant about what content their children are watching online. But it’s impossible to always know what will pop up on the For You Page on TikTok or the YouTube homepage. It’s inevitable that kids will see something scary online, so the best parents can do is be there to comfort them and console them that the boogeymen on the screen can’t catch them.