If you are a parent and don’t know anything about the Blue Whale Challenge, then it’s important that you read the following post.
What is the Blue Whale Challenge?
The Blue Whale Challenge is supposedly an Internet game where players are assigned 50 different tasks by the game admin (also known as curator). A player has to complete all these tasks within 50 days and can only win it by completing the last task – which is to take their own life.
According to Wikipedia, Blue Whale Game has its origins in Russia and is the creation of a 21-year-old man called Philipp Budeikin. The game began back in 2013 and there have been 130 separate cases of suicide that are linked to it. This claim, however, still remains unverified.
The name of the game originates from the unverified phenomenon of ‘beached whales’ – refers to whales who strand themselves on land ending their lives.
How is the Blue Whale Game played?
Just how this game is played is a mystery – some say it can be played by installing a mobile app while some are of the view that the ‘curators’ recruit participants via Social Networking sites. And there are theories that suggest – people who are willing to play the game leave messages in places such as public forums or comment boxes of shady websites using hashtags like #bluewhalechallenge, #curatorfindme, #i_am_whale to help the game’s admins find them.
There are 50 tasks that every player has to undertake while playing this game. These include making cuts on the arm, carving certain characters on the hand using a sharp object, watching psychedelic and horror movies, visiting a railroad, standing on the edge of a building and other such daring and self-destructive tasks – with jumping off a building as the final one.
Reported cases of suicide linked to Blue Whale Game in India
The following cases (sourced from Wikipedia) are allegedly linked to the Blue Whale Challenge based on various anecdotes from the deceased or affected person’s family, friends, and acquaintances. There is still no concrete evidence that can prove their association with the Blue Whale Game. But, the details in these incidences do paint a picture of this sinister game – such as the behavior of the victims and what they did before ending their lives.
- A 16-year-old boy from Kerala committed suicide on 26 July 2017.
- A 14-year-old boy from Mumbai committed suicide by jumping off a building.
- On 10 August 2017, a student from Indore tried taking his life but was stopped by a group of students.
- On 10 August 2017, a 14-year-old boy was stopped by the Maharashtra Police before he could complete the final task of the Blue Whale Challenge.
- On 12 August 2017, a student from West Bengal committed suicide by asphyxiating himself as per reports.
- On 15 August 2017, a 16-year-old boy from Kerela committed suicide by hanging himself.
- A 22-year-old man from Kerela committed suicide by hanging himself on 16 August 2017.
- On 21 August 2017, a 24-year-old girl jumped off the seventh floor of a building. She survived the fall with severe injuries.
- A 15-year-old boy from Jamshedpur in Jharkhand has been reported to may have drowned himself in a city lake on 21 August 2017.
Who are the most likely candidates to play this game?
The answer is well covered by the following article on indiatoday.in
Why will anyone play a game such a Blue Whale Challenge that asks them to end their life?
Now, the most important question – What should parents/guardians do about it?
To begin with, we must understand that the Blue Whale Challenge is not a mobile app nor a website or a social media group until proven otherwise – it’s a phenomenon. Which means, you cannot prevent the game from getting installed on your kid’s phone nor can you block any websites. Yes, you may bar your kids from using the Internet or social media but to what extent?
So, what remains? Your good old bonding with your children – the strongest shield that can keep them safe from all the bad things in life including the Internet. Prohibiting myself from giving any lecture on parenting, I’ll just keep it to this – start getting more engaged with your kids; talking is essential. They should be able to voice their thoughts to you without the fear of getting judged or rejected – problems from trouble sleeping at night and anxiety of joining a new class to being worried about that bully in their school or what others think about them – anything. Also, if you see sudden behavioral changes in them, do not give a second thought to visiting a professional.
Their lives might look ordinary, careless or nothing grand to attract attention, but a lot goes around in those tiny little minds – more than we grownups assume.
From the point of view of online security, here are some things that you can do:
- Teach your kids (right from a young age) not to share their personal information on the Internet. Follow this rule yourself.
- Let them know that they can talk to you about anything wrong they see or come across online.
- Help them understand that strangers in real life are no different from strangers on the Internet.
- Caution them against joining any groups that ask them to perform undesirable tasks.
- Consider giving your children phones that they can use for just calling and texting. This way, you can limit their impressionable minds to the Internet. Dr. Harsh Shetty, child psychiatrist at LH Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai, says “never give gadgets as gifts, and do not use gadgets as a means to calm a child or keep them busy”.
Also read: Blue Whale Challenge: What can parents do?
The Internet is probably the next best thing that was invented after the computer. While most of us adults went for it and learned about its use, our kids are being fed with it from a very young age – without us being mindful about it. And that is where we are creating a gap that grows bigger with time and swallows kids like those who reportedly fell prey to the Blue Whale Game.
So, parents, ensure you are listening to your kids’ distress signals because if you don’t then someone else will.