What to Know About Huggy Wuggy and the Poppy Playtime Game

Huggy Wuggy may sound like a cuddly teddy bear, but this video game villian is capturing our kids hearts. Learn why.

By now, you've probably heard about (or seen) Huggy Wuggy—a wide-eyed, sharp-toothed video-game monster turned carnival toy. Debuted in 2021, Huggy Wuggy seems reminiscent of "Fuzzy Wuzzy" (at least in namesake) but don't let his moniker fool you: Huggy Wuggy isn't your average bear... if he's a bear at all. But what is Huggy Wuggy and the Playtime Poppy game?

Girl lying on bed at night and using a mobile phone

Here's what parents should know about Huggy Wuggy, where kids may be exposed to him, and what you can—and can't—do about it.

What Is Huggy Wuggy?

Huggy Wuggy sounds like a cuddly teddy bear, but the monster is actually an evil villain in the 2021 horror PC game Poppy Playtime by MOB Games. The blue stuffed bear is no Care Bear. When he opens his mouth, he has rows of sharp teeth. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Poppy Playtime is a game of survival set in an abandoned toy factory. Players must solve puzzles while Huggy Wuggy hunts them. He has inspired multiple YouTubers to create parodies of creepy songs that, while not intended for children, are easy for kids to find and watch online.

Why Do Kids Like Huggy Wuggy?

While it is not clear why children like Huggy Wuggy, one thing is certain: kids process fear differently. This means that what adults find scary, for example, some kids find funny, silly, and cool. Does this explain why children are obsessed with a sock puppet with razor-sharp teeth? Maybe. Sometimes, though, the allure of a toy or object is the fact that our parents dislike it.

Where Are Kids Getting Exposed to Huggy Wuggy?

Kids are gettings exposed to Huggy Wuggy in a variety of places. Some children have played Playtime Poppy despite its 12+ rating by Common Sense Media. Other children have seen videos of the monster-bear hybrid on YouTube and TikTok, and some simply know of Huggy Wuggy based on the toy, which is sold in gift shops across the country and is regularly given out at as a carnival prize. It has been said some children are even replicating Huggy Wuggy on the playground, playing it as they would tag or another like game.

Why Are People Concerned About Huggy Wuggy?

Common Sense Media cautions parents, "While there's no graphic violence or gore, there are splatters of blood throughout the factory. Also, the horror nature of the game will likely be too scary for younger audiences."

Aside from the videos, like Squid Game, Huggy Wuggy has made its way to the playground.

"It is a very deceiving character, as hugs should be seen as something kind and loving," wrote Deal Parochial Primary School head Justine Brown in her letter to parents.

How Adults Can Help

Brown asked parents to remain vigilant, reminding them, "children can become upset and confused by what they see."

Parents can use expert advice from previous trends, like the 2019 Momo Challenge, which prompted necessary discussions about cyberbullying, and the recent Squid Game controversy.

  • Educate yourself. It's hard to keep up with every new social media platform and app. But experts share it's important to know what your child is using.
  • Get their opinions. Asking your child open-ended questions about what they know of a game and their thoughts on it can give you a glimpse into their thought process and help you shape the conversation.
  • Communicate with your child. It can be alarming to learn that your child is watching videos or replicating Huggy Wuggy on the playground. But you can use it as a prompt to speak with your child and help them learn. Use "I" statements, such as, "I love you, and I'm concerned that this game could hurt you and others. It's so important to treat others with respect."
  • Let them know you're there. These images can be scary and confusing. Telling them that you understand that and letting them know you're always available to talk leaves the door open for future conversations.

Unfortunately, Huggy Wuggy isn't the first potentially harmful trend, and it won't be the last. Open and honest conversations with your child can help them navigate the digital space and playground.

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