I had been thinking of writing on this since I read about the first incident, about the first teenager in India who ended his life over some game. Really? There are games which end with one committing suicide? So, when I read about this deadly online game – Blue Whale Challenge, I was appalled.
About Blue Whale Challenge
By now, I’m sure many of us would have searched, read, and talked about the Blue Whale Challenge. So, I will talk about only a few of the basic details here.
A Russian online game Blue Whale pushes the teenagers, with depressed and suicidal mindset to end their lives. Although Police have not yet confirmed that the teenage suicides in India are linked to this insane challenge, parents’ of these children say that their children were under the influence of this game.
Surprisingly, Blue Whale Challenge is not a generic link or app which can be searched or downloaded from the Internet or a play store. It’s more like the creators of the game pick their victims than the players seeking the game. The players are identified through secretive and closed groups on social media networks using a particular set of hashtags and keywords used by children in such groups and then the creators send them an invitation to join.
So, initially the tasks/challenges are easy like waking up at 4:00 am, watching horror movies, or going to a graveyard alone, but later the tasks become gruesome like scratching a whale on one’s arm, spilling hot oil on the hand, uploading one’s naked picture, standing on a cliff or a ledge, with the last task to kill oneself by any means.
Why can’t players back out from Blue Whale Challenge?
The pressure of proving oneself, infatuation, and a bad company can be a few reasons why a huge number of teenagers have fallen prey to depression and insecurities.
The sense of failure, poor self-esteem, and the feeling of being ignored pushes such children to social media platforms, the best place to vent out their helplessness.
They find freedom in the virtual world and are filled with hope and belonging. As a result, they become a victim of these deadly games. Their need to prove themselves is so strong, they aren’t even afraid of indulging in harmful and suicidal activities.
Surely, there would be children who wish to back out, but they don’t. Why?
There are children who become fearless and enjoy the tasks and knowingly continue playing the game. These tasks give them the pleasure of achievement, which they lack and crave for in the real life. However, when children/players reveal their desire to qui the game, the curators blackmail the children with the threat of uploading their naked images online or hurting them and their family.
Are there other games like Blue Whale?
I was surprised to know that Blue Whale isn’t the only player in the rink. There are a plethora of deadly games targeting psychologically insecure and vulnerable children across the world.
Some of the equally insane games are: Watch this 3 min video
How can you help your child – THE WAY OUT
For starters, restrict the screen time of your children from the very beginning and make your child live without devices/gadgets. Inculcate the habit of reading, encourage them for outdoor activities, and most of all sit with them and talk, no matter how old they grow. Make room for some family time in your routine, this is one thing all of us are losing out on.
Though a few pieces online also say this game is a hoax, the fact that children died cannot be overlooked. Watch out for signs in your child like:
- Not interacting at home, talking about running away or dying
- Spending way too much time on phone/laptop/social media
- Changed behaviour
- Cut marks/bruises on their body
- Being secretive about their activities
- Reluctant to talk about something
Many schools have undertaken measures to curb the dangers of Blue Whale. Schools in Uttar Pradesh have banned mobiles in school premises while Punjab schools have asked students to wear short-sleeved shirts to check for whale tattoos.
CONTACT INFORMATION OF CENTRES TO HELP IN SUCH CASES: Blue Whale Challenge PDF (Please Forward)
Stop pressurizing your children to compete with the world, with your wants, or with everything. Instead of being a parent be a friend to your child, so when your child needs a friend they don’t search for a shoulder outside.
Make your child feel they are not alone. Make them believe you are there to hear them out without being judgmental. The Internet is a world much more dangerous and insidious than we can ever imagine. As parents, your duty and responsibility don’t end with just providing for your child. Be alert and aware of your child’s surroundings, they are at a tender age, be with them, mentally and in person.
“Listen to your child’s Silence. They might be exploding inside.”
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