A government advisory on ‘Blue Whale Challenge Game’ has asked guardians to monitor their children’s online and social media activity to ensure that they are not engaging with the deadly game which has led to a spate of suicides in India and other countries. It has asked them not to talk about the game “unless there is reason to believe your child already knows of or has played the game” as discussing it may “increase the chance that your child will search for it on their own”, said the advisory issued by the ministry of electronics and IT.
At least, nine suicides linked to the game have been reported in the country over the past few months, with latest being a 13-year old boy in Lucknow who hanged himself last week. “Blue whale game (The suicide game) is abetment to suicide. It is understood through various internet reports that it is shared among secretive groups on social media networks. The creators seek out their players/victims who are in depression and send them an invitation to join,” said the advisory dated September 13.
The advisory explained that the basis of the challenge is that an anonymous ‘group administrator’ otherwise known as ‘the curator’ hands out 50 tasks to selected ‘players’ that must be completed, documented and posted during a 50-day period. “Players of the challenge can’t stop playing once they’ve started; they are blackmailed and cyber bullied into completing the ‘game’,” the advisory said.
It has suggested that guardians be attentive if they notice unusually secretive behaviour, mostly related to their online activity of their child. The other symptoms of children playing Blue Whale Challenge Game includes unusually secretive behaviour mostly related to their online activity, visible marks like deep cuts or wounds on any part of the body of the child, a sudden increase in the time they spend online especially on social media, change screens on their device when approached, become withdrawn or angry, after using the internet or sending text messages.
Also, guardians should remain alert if their is a sudden increase of many new phone numbers and email contacts in their device. The advisory has asked guardians to install a good cyber or mobile parenting software which helps them in monitoring children besides taking help of professionals if there is apprehension that child is at risk. “Remind your child that you are there and will support them as they face life challenges,” the advisory said.