How to Prevent Child From Participating Blue Whale Challenge & other online games
Created by Nitin Updated on Sep 05, 2017
Blue Whale Challenge is a threat to your child's well-being. It is disguised as an online game targeting children between 10-18 years of age – the game is formatted as a series of "dares". The more a child progressively engages with the game in order to move ahead in the game, the more the game manages to dig deep into a child's psyche and it has the potential to eventually lead the player to suicide. To say the game is dangerous for your child is an understatement! We have captured all you need to know through this blog. [In News - Dangerous Skull Breaker Challenge Viral On TikTok]
What is the Blue Whale Challenge?
Blue Whale challenge is an online game. The game's genesis is from the fact that sometimes whales beach themselves intentionally and die. In this challenge like a game, an online administrator assigns tasks to its players. The players are given a period of 50 days to complete the tasks. The players are expected to take photos of them undertaking the challenge and upload them as proof. The last challenge in this game is to commit suicide. It really worries some that players of this game cannot stop playing because they are blackmailed and cyber bullied into completing the game. This dangerous game has become a menace globally, and in India too there has been a report of children harming themselves and in a few cases even committing suicides attributed to Blue Whale Challenge. Children in the age group 12-19 years are most vulnerable to this game and have been the most affected group in the span of the last two weeks. [Know - How to Save Child from Momo Whatsapp game challenge?]
Where Are Children Discovering This Game?
Blue Whale is not a freely downloadable game, application or software. Children cannot access it on their smartphones through app stores or on social media platforms like Facebook. It can be joined only through an invite. 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 Kind Of Challenges Do The Players Face In This Game?
Some of the challenges in this game are listed below (these are just to give into the peep into this game – there are 50 such challenges with the last one asking the player to jump off a building). These are shared by the curators of this game. It may not be a standard list of challenges and it is possible that curators of the game may come up with new ones.
- Carve with a razor "f57" on your hand, send a photo to the curator
- Wake up at 4.20 a.m. and watch psychedelic and scary videos that curator sends you
- Cut your arm with a razor along your veins, but not too deep, only 3 cuts, send a photo to the curator
- Draw a whale on a sheet of paper, send a photo to curator
- If you are ready to "become a whale", carve "YES" on your leg. If not– cut yourself many times (punish yourself)
- Carve "f40" on your hand, send a photo to curator
- Wake up at 4:20 a.m. and go to a roof (the higher the better)
- Carve a whale on your hand with a razor, send a photo to curator
- Have a talk "with a whale" (with another player like you or with a curator)
- The curator tells you the date of your death and you have to accept it
Have There Been Any Steps Taken By The Government? Should You Still Be Concerned?
Although the government has asked digital firms such as Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Microsoft and Yahoo to immediately take down any links leading to the Blue whale 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/candidate. Also, please note that it is now available under different names such as A Silent House, A Sea of Whales and Wake Me Up at 4:20 AM. Alternatively, there could also be other similar games available and may not be in the public eye.
Which Child Age Group Is Most Prone To Participating In This Game?
From what has been seen globally and in India, tweens and teens (i.e. 12-19 years) are the most vulnerable age group of social media, and so are most prone to accepting the Blue Whale Challenge.
What Are The Signs In Teens That Might Indicate Their Interest In This Game?
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, or changes eating and/or sleeping habits, s/he must be immediately given special attention. These are the early signs of a child who may be inclined towards participating in this online game.
How Can You Prevent Your Child From Participating In Such Dangerous Online Games Or Intervene?
Here are a few tips on how you can keep your child safe online-
- Having the correct information about an issue is extremely important. Know the symptoms, and early signs. There's a lot of media frenzy around this issue. Given that, there is a need to take certain measures to inform children and interact with them to avoid any mishaps. If your child has questions or curiosity around this game, don't shun them down abruptly, instead, speak to them and answer their queries, and act proactively
- Make sure that your child is accessing age-appropriate online sites which do not promote unethical behavior or violence
- Always ensure that your child accesses the 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. A role model for your child - educate them about spamming and cyberbullying and how to tackle it
- Use parental controls on all the devices used by your child. Monitor the screen time and keep a tab on your child's online activities
- Be a role model for your child. Be conscious of your own online activities at all times. For e.g. access internet in family space, avoid closed-door internet surfing
- Talk to fellow parents, share concerns if any and discuss the best ways to help your children together. Children talk to their friends and so on, you would be able to tackle this better, together as a pro-parent community
- Keep yourself updated with recent internet phenomena, especially things like internet games, networks and so on
- Observe your child's behavior closely. Be alert to any unusual changes like moodiness, less or no communication, lack of interest in studies and falling grades. If you notice any such changes, closely monitor his/her online activities, talk to your child's teacher/s, school authorities or consult a child psychologist
- If you find out that your child is already playing the Blue Whale Challenge, immediately stop him/her from using the internet from any devices, and also consult a child psychologist urgently
- Inform your local police authority about what has happened and seek their advice on the next safety measures
- Experts advise parents not to take hasty decisions. Their suggestion is to Stop, think and then react. Also, to reach out to professionals like child psychologists to help the child in such a situation is a must
How Can Schools And Teachers Help?
- The teacher needs to keep an eye on the sudden fall in grades and social behavior of the students
- The teacher should look out for anti-social behavior, they should personally talk to such children who don't interact with the other
- children much or are aloof, and also inform the parent and school authorities in case they observe any such behavior
- The teacher should also ensure that children do not use any gadgets during school hours. In case the child is doing so intermittently/repeatedly, they should immediately report to school authority/parents as deem fit by the school policy
- The teacher should ensure that children are sensitized about the pros and cons of the internet from time to time
- The teacher should look out for depression in children. The ones who are depressed are more likely to be quiet and avoid long conversations, so Teachers can keep it short, but identify the need to communicate first and listen. And since they spend most of their time in schools, psychological vigilance is a must
- Doctors advise that if a teacher or parents fail to communicate with the tweens/teens, schools and parents should reach out to professionals to deal with the situation. This stage of life is called psychomotor retardation and is not easy to handle, by even parents or schools, so it's always better to reach out to professionals rather than believing in non-medical treatment methods
You could share this information with your child's school authorities and teachers to help them help their students and parents. Continue to collaborate with them closely to watch out for any early signs.
Who Can You Contact In Case Of More Queries Or Help In This Area?
- SNEHA INDIA, CHENNAI
- THE SAMARITANS MUMBAI
- CONNECTING INDIA, PUNE
- MAITHRI, KOCHI
- LIFELINE FOUNDATION
- ICALL, MUMBAI (+91 22 2556 3291, e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org)
- PRATHEEKSHA, KERALA
- PRATHYASA, IRINJALAKUDA
- THANAL, KERALA
- MAITREYI, PONDICHERRY
- ROSHNI, SECUNDERABAD (E-mail – email@example.com)
Have you also been reading and consulting Experts on this? If so, it would be great, if you could add handy tips to make this read timely and useful for fellow parents. Please add in the comments below.
Please note: The content of the blog has tips from UNICEF issued in the best interest of children and parents. Please do share handy tips and do connect us with professionals working in this area, so that we could continue to bring out a comprehensive and timely help.
| Sep 05, 2017
Thanks for this blog at the right time,Nitin. Many people are not aware that this is not a downloadable game but a game that is initiated through social network / closed or Secret groups. I think it's not only the responsibility of the school to teach the pros and cons of Internet. Parents should also be talking to children about the effects of leaving digital footprints and how it's impossible to erase once it's left there. The data tells us that the children with low self esteem or those with emotional problems are more likely to get chosen by these groups. So children should be educated on what can be shared on social media, and If something that can't be seen by a parent is shared in social media, then it's most likely a wrong choice to share with unknown people too. They should also be aware of harmful effects of talking to strangers over internet. It's always better to give them examples from news to make them understand the depth of the issue. Some of my friends didn't want to talk to their children about this game as they were worried that it would create a curiosity in them to look for it. But I have a different perspective on this. I did discuss it with my son and read all the news together about this game to warn him how one can be forced to continue the game and to inform who to contact for help in such case of cyber bullying. In my son's school they have been having this system for many years now where there is drop box made available in hallways for children to drop off their concerns anonymously if they don't wish to have one on one conversation with counsellors. They can even write about a friend if they think that person needs help or if something is found suspicious. I think it's a great system for children who are introvert or who are scared of seeking help. I would suggest to request your child's school to have such similar system to enable the children toreport their concerns.
| Sep 05, 2017
Hey Carol! Thank You for your thoughts on this. The tips shared by you are extremely valuable for parents. Yes, it's true that children with low self esteem and emotional seclusion are more vulnerable to this deadly game. I also like the idea of having the option to post a query/concern anonymously in your child's school. Imagine if all schools could just co-opt a similar mechanism. Let's push for a similar mechanism across schools. It also puts a "we-care" perspective among schools for their students. The "blue whale challenge" is a real challenge for parents, which needs schools and parents to collaborate for the best interest of children.
| Sep 06, 2017
Hi Radhika! This game has been banned by a few states already and also is being banned by the government , but the challenge with this game is that it is being shared online secretly. almost as if the curator of the game picks up their victim. That makes it almost non trackable and even more challenging for a parent to spot. precaution/open communication with your child/spotting early signs is the key to protect your child.