Blue Whale Game: What You Need to Know to Keep Your Child Safe
Image credit: News18
The Blue Whale Challenge suicide game, which has reportedly claimed the lives of six children across the country, has prompted UNICEF India to issue an advisory to parents and teachers under its Asli Dost campaign.
Here are the key takeaways from the advisory:
What Parents Need to Know
The Blue Whale challenge is an online game. The game is named so because sometimes whales beach themselves intentionally and die.
In this game, an online administrator assigns tasks to its participants. The participants are given a period of 50 days to complete each task. The players are expected to take photos of them undertaking the challenge and upload them as proofs for the curator's approval. The last challenge is to commit suicide.
Players of this game cannot stop playing because they are blackmailed and cyber bullied into completing the game.
This deadly game has spread all over the globe, and in India there have been reports of children harming themselves and in a few cases even committing suicides, which are allegedly linked to Blue Whale Challenge.
More than six children across India in the age group of 12-19 years have taken their lives within a span of two weeks. They were all allegedly playing the suicide game.
How can children access this game
Blue Whale is not a downloadable game, application or software. Children cannot access it on their smartphones through app stores or on social media platforms like Facebook. It is shared among secretive groups on social media networks. The creators seek out their players/victims and send them an invitation to join.
What the government is doing
Although the government has asked companies such as Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Microsoft and Yahoo to immediately take down any links leading to the deadly game, it is unclear how these companies would make the game inaccessible. It is because this game is not publicly available and freely downloadable. It is a social media phenomenon where conversations about this take place secretively in closed social media groups. You can only be part of the game if an administrator contacts you and enlists you as a potential whale, or candidate. It may also be available under different names such as A Silent House, A Sea of Whales and Wake Me Up at 4:20 AM.
Signs in teens of inclination towards this game
• Most child psychologists say when a child tends to stay by himself/herself
• Stops interacting with family and friends
• Often talks about running away from home or even death
• Changes eating and/or sleeping habits must be
• Immediately given special attention
Tips to keep you child safe online
Having correct information about an issue is extremely important. The media reports on this issue do not make it clear that the role of this game/challenge in the recent cases of suicide has not been verified yet.
Your child probably knows about the Blue Whale Challenge because of the media frenzy around this issue. Having said that, due to the uncertainty around this issue, there is a need to take certain measures to inform children and interact with them to avoid any mishaps.
Make sure that your child has access to age appropriate online sites which do not promote unethical behavior or violence. Always ensure that your child accesses internet from a computer placed in the family space.
Talk to your child more often. Explore the online world together and engage in interesting activities demonstrating ethical and safe online behavior. Use parental controls on all the devices used by your child. Monitor the screen time and keep an eye on his/her online activities.
Be a role model to your child. Be conscious of your own online activities. Talk to other parents, share concerns if any and discuss best ways to help your children.