Challenges and teens have gone hand in hand long before the invention of mobile phones or social media. The party game “truth or dare” has been played for centuries. Today, social media introduces dares to entirely new audiences, causing challenges to go viral. For many teens, peer pressure combined with fear of missing out makes it very difficult to not only participate in but also to seek out some of these viral challenges.
The Blue Whale Challenge is one such challenge that takes health risk challenges to a whole new level, since to “win” the challenge a player must commit suicide. The horrifyingly dangerous game has been linked to at least 130 teen deaths across the globe.
“The only thing you’d be left with is a picture of me,” wrote Manpreet Sahas, the 14-year-old Mumbai boy who jumped off a seven-storey building in Mumbai, India.
Right before jumping from the building the boy took a photograph where only his legs can be seen and are captioned: “Soon the only thing you would be left with is a picture of me.”
The suicide is the first ‘Blue Whale’ death in India and has sent a lot of parents into a panic.
So what is Blue Whale Suicide Challenge?
The Blue Whale challenge is an alleged ‘internet/social media game’ wherein the participants are given a series of tasks to complete over a period of time. The game asks its participants to tackle a series of challenges instructed by admins of private groups in social media for 50 days. It starts with watching a scary movie and escalates to extremes, including self-harm. On the 50th day, the participant is asked to commit suicide after documenting the act in the form of videos/photos. “The person playing is so immersed in the game that they only respond to virtual cues. Depending on the kind of personality trait they have and their current mental state, children respond to the cues negatively or positively,” said Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma, a Psychiatrist
There is still no clarity as to how participants ‘play this game’. While some say it might be an app, there are rumors that it can be done via social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram etc.
If there were a Devil—an evil force on this Earth—then, it exists solely through this game created by Phillip Budeikin. And it doesn’t matter that Budeikin was arrested in May of this year because the game continues to thrive and claim the lives of young boys and girls across the world. There are other names of the game exist- A Silent House, A Sea of Whales, F57 or F-57 and is mostly played on Instagram and Snapchat.
What can parents do?
1. Communicate & differentiate – we stay in rather convoluted times wherein differentiation between the virtual and real world is getting blurred. Hence, as parents talk to your children about online trends and chat with them regularly about what games their friends are talking about and warn them about peer pressure online. Many times, young people feel they have no option other than saying yes to be accepted, help them practice ways of saying no. Let them know that they can always come to you if they have more worries.
2. Read up – There are many forums (like FOSI) wherein you can find out about banned games. A simple google search will show up a list
3. Solution: Nischint Parental Solution – Ultimately, it’s always the parent’s responsibility to make sure that their kids are safe online. To be vigilant, parents need Nischint an advanced Parental Solution for Blue whale Suicide Game Challenge where parents can monitor, manage & protect Child Mobile Device remotely from parent’s mobile device or laptop easily. The app is available on both iOS and Android.
4. Seek Counselling – screen time addiction is not similar to other vice addictions like drugs, alcohol etc. Simple counseling with child experts might be very effective in helping kids get disconnected from an over doze of screen time.