Blue Whale Challenge – How to keep children safe is becoming every parent’s worry. However, instead of The Blue Whale, what parents need to really be worried about are all the other whales out there. There are many!
The Blue Whale challenge is a game where a group of administrators give participants daily tasks over a 50 day period. The initial stages of these games start off easy with simple challenges such as listening to a strange genre of music, waking up at odd hours, watching a horror movie alone etc. Then the tasks start to progressively get more and more twisted such as eating inedible things or self mutilation by carving out shapes on a participant’s own skin etc. The final task of this game is to commit suicide. How brilliant!
There is still no clear certainty how somebody plays these games yet. Some people say an app is supposed to be installed while others say that administrators get in touch with the participants via social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram etc. A series of several hash tags like #bluewhalechallenge, #Curatorfindme, #i_am_whale act as signals for administrators or curators of this game.
So in this bizzare world of hashtags and app-less involvement of players, how does one monitor or safeguard children from this Blue Whale? Maybe we should first look at why someone would play a game that leads to his or her own death in the first place.
Why would someone take up a challenge which demands suicide?
The 1st Whale : Temptation
Temptation is the number one problem. The temptation or interest in taking up a challenge while harming oneself. The other evil of the game is the compulsion in clicking up the sign up button.
The 2nd Whale : Self-Destruction
Young adolescents and teenagers are getting attracted to challenges that involve risk taking such as racing, truth or dare, drinking beyond limits and this progressively even extends to actions that cause self-harm, pain and self-destruction.
The 3rd Whale : Need for Attention
Children who take up challenges and hurt themselves as a part of the game do not do it in solitude. Their actions in the game also screams of ‘the need for attention’. They click pictures of their bleeding skin, sitting at the edge of the terrace and share it with their friends. Need for attention is an obvious motivator for people participating in taking up challenges in the Blue Whale game.
The 4th Whale : Wrong influence
It is easier to influence young adolescents and teenagers to take up some self-destructive challenges. They fall a prey easily to bad habits and are more vulnerable due to temptation, peer pressure, etc
The 5th Whale : A Sense of Adventure
Children who are influenced by strangers in taking up these harmful challenges feel it as being part of an adventurous cult which is cool. They want to prove they too are strong enough for these dare devil stunts – for a sense of acceptance maybe?
Doesn’t it all boil down to parenting, schooling and overall upbringing in today’s children?
Eminent psychiatrist, a consultant psychiatrist at P.D.Hinduja Hospital Mumbai, Dr Kersi Chavda recently posted his experience with two kids aged 13 & 14 both of whom attempted suicide because of heartbreak involving girlfriends who didn’t encourage their tender romantic advances. Dr Chavda’s own shock at such incidents was evident in the words of his post “Can’t sleep, thinking about the young lads today … Is the whole world going bonkers??? What the heck is happening to our kids?”
So yes, what is the heck that is happening to our kids today?
It is not only the Blue Whale game that has led to suicide. There have been many instances of accidents like drinking and driving, kidnapping, murder etc. which have many a times led to teenage death or suicide. Then there are the incidents where triggered death was due suicide over failing in class, inability to adjust in new colleges, ragging or lovelorn emotion over a broken heart.
In all these situations you never know when your child can snap. The best solution goes back home – how well can parents insulate their children from such incidents. Changing the whole society is a long and arduous task. It’s as challenging as stopping The BlueWhale game from reaching a child.
Psychologists & Online Counsellors point out some of the clear factors why parent’s upbringing is blamed:
• Parents don’t give adequate time to see what their children do.
• Parents are much too liberal with their children making the child watch the world through the adult eyes.
• Intense pressure to perform like the one’s seen on reality shows.
Dr Chavda’s post had thrown up some very valuable observations from a whole lot doctors and teachers alike. A Mumbai based obstetrician’s remark was particularly relevant. She consciously introduces parents to let their babies “learn to lose”. Whether it is satisfying desires or loneliness, parents need to learn the importance of letting their children learn from a little bit of deprivation. Even as early as at 2 months, “body programming” and “mind programming” starts very early and is easily able to grasp these learnings.
Disappointment a ground for suicide
Teenagers are often seen they cannot handle disappointments. Many children are not taught to deal with failures that also lead to contemplation of suicide. Children need to understand that it is natural to face disappointments. With all these factors parents need to understand there is an urgent need for a change in the society.
Parents usually spend lavishly on kid’s affairs. A birthday party easily carries budgets ranging from Rs.50,000 to 5 lakhs. Solo travel is becoming common amongst many adolescents these days and increasingly these involve travelling across international borders to exotic locations. Parents go out of their way to get best branded clothes for their children.
These sort of upbringing has started becoming more a social “show off” for adults than upbringing of children. The interest in such lifestyles on the other hand, is robbing their children of one of the main things that children really need while growing up – their parents. Children get less parental time and to easily satisfy their hyper curious growing brains there is always the easy indulgence in video games, gadgets. And of course “whales”.
Most parents are well meaning people and as every parents would, they want their kids to have the best life, a life easier than their own past struggles. However instead of going overboard, children should be taught how to be self-sufficient and to be strong.
According to several online counsellors contacted while writing this, most tend to agree that today’s adults are themselves untutored at handling their own emotions efficiently. This is causing a snowball effect which manifests in their own children later. Cultural changes are a permanent thing – there will always be many coloured whales that pose a threat to children’s safety, but sifting through things with good judgement is what “adults” were supposed to be doing in the first place!!
Is The Blue Whale Challenge really real?
Nobody knows for certain yet. There is no confirmation on the existence of these games. The suicides that are linked to these games are from the personal accounts of families or friends who claim seeing their loved ones performing such tasks. Origins of this game are reported to be appearing in Russia where approximately 130 deaths and 2 arrests have been seen.
Several parents in Mumbai have expressed concern over exposure of children to such games however the Mumbai police have not found any evidence that can confirm any death due to ‘Blue Whale Suicide Challenge’ yet. But the police don’t want to rule out the possibility of death due to playing the blue whale challenge game at this moment.
The government should have a strict cyber security and a compulsory ban should be imposed on sites which perpetrate such deeds. Parents should keep a proper eye on their children as to what they do online. Workshops are being planned to be conducted in order to educate parents and their children on the pros and cons of using social media. Parents are also supposed to keep a check on what their children do on the internet and be mindful on the child’s engagement on social media sites. There should be set guidelines and open communications informing the children about the evils of the internet usage.
Therappo is an online counselling site that urges you to talk to someone if you are looking for help or considering joining the Blue Whale Challenge game. The first step taken by online counsellors is to have an open dialogue and discourage children from talking to strangers who encourage kids in participating in self-harm activities. Also our online counsellors realise that kids facing mental distress or depression are more likely to be influenced by such challenges than anyone else. Whenever necessary, Therappo’s online counsellors educate and alarm the parents whenever there is deviation in the child’s behaviour.