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Blue Whale challenge: Experts tell parents not to be lenient, check kids’ web activities

india Updated: Aug 11, 2017 20:25 IST
Blue whale,Suicide attempt,Blue whale challenge

(Representative image)

Cyber experts and psychologists advised parents on Friday to strictly monitor teenagers hooked on dangerous online games such as the Blue Whale Challenge, which almost killed a school student in Indore.

They said banning such games won’t help because there’s no foolproof way to stop these from creeping into a child’s smart phone or computer. Also, they accused parents of being too lenient.

The parenting advice follows the alleged suicide attempt on Thursday by a Class VII student, who noted in his diary every successful stage completed in the self-harming Blue Whale Challenge before trying to jump from the third floor of Indore’s Chameli Devi Public School. Classmates saved him.

Before him, a 14-year-old boy jumped off the terrace of his home in Mumbai on August 1 in what was believed to be the first Indian casualty of the game responsible for scores of teenage deaths around the world. The game provokes players to indulge in daring, self-destructive tasks for 50 days before finally taking the “winning” step of death by suicide.

The additional director general of the government’s anti-narcotics wing, Varun Kapoor, said parents monitor each aspect of their children’s “real world”, but seldom bother to know what they’re doing in the “virtual world”.

“It is only recently that parents have realised that the virtual world in which children stay can impinge and damage their real world and lead to injuries and death as shown by the Blue Whale challenge,” said Kapoor, who has held over 100 interactive sessions on cyber crime.

“Most parents are not aware of the dynamics of the internet and depend on their children to navigate the web…”

The chief ministers of Maharashtra and Kerala and the home minister of Madhya Pradesh had asked the Centre to ban the game, but cyber expert Yogesh Pandit it can still be accessed through illegal servers.

Besides, banning one game won’t work as countless such dangerous challenges are floating in the wild web.

“How many can we block? The only way out is to raise awareness among school principals, students and parents. They have to be aware what the children are up to,” Pandit said.

The menace hasn’t caught on with kids, at least in Madhya Pradesh, but they “are bound to check the game out of curiosity” after the Mumbai, Pune and Indore incidents, he added.

The controllers of such games exploit children’s gullibility and inquisitiveness. And they push the element of dare, which becomes the clinching attraction.

Kapoor said he has noticed that those who are “weak in other areas and are made fun of and even rebuked by parents are more susceptible to these games”.

The game starts as a challenge for teenagers, but soon becomes an addiction as they derive a thrill by winning the initial easy levels, according to Indore-based psychologist Rekha Arya.

She said teenagers are devoted to social media and the internet because their time and communication with parents and siblings have come down drastically in a modern world of working families.

Clinical psychologist Satyakant Trivedi of Bansal Hospital in Bhopal agrees.

“The period, especially the early teens, is such that most cannot differentiate between the virtual and real worlds. What is considered to be a great achievement in the virtual world usually counts for nothing in the real world,” he said.

“It is something like substance abuse and the addiction to the game goes on increasing and the gamer slips into the virtual world from where he draws his psychological sustenance,” Trivedi added.

First Published: Aug 11, 2017 20:25 IST