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Blue whale challenge: Parents, here’s how you should talk to your child about internet habits

Mental health experts said that when parents notice that teenagers are spending a lot of time on social media, they should not respond aggressively.

mumbai Updated: Aug 01, 2017 16:00 IST
Sadaguru Pandit
Sadaguru Pandit
Hindustan Times
Mumbai news,Blue whale challenge,online suicide game
(Picture for representation)

What should parents do when they know find out disturbing details about their child’s web history or their behaviour on social media? Experts advice parents not to take hasty decisions. Their suggestion: Stop, think and react.

“I am not saying act like a satellite mom or dad, hovering over every tweet, status or whatsapp message that goes out. Surveillance is not rocket science. Check the web history, see what sites your child is visiting and talk about it, rather than setting rules or punishing them,” said Dr Parul Tank from Wockhardt Hospital.

Mental health experts added that when parents notice that teenagers are spending a lot of time on social media and other virtual platforms, they should not respond aggressively. “Being aggressive in such situations never helps as a parent. If you want to know about their lives, then you have to become a friend rather than being an all-knowing parent,” said Dr Sagar Mundada, KEM hospital.

Child psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty said parents need to keep a watch on simple signs like irritability, extreme changes in sleep pattern, restlessness, social media behaviour, and suicidal jokes or thoughts in children, and communicate immediately. “Don’t spare them, but don’t trivialise the issue. Put on your best persuasive skills, make them sit and talk about their day-to-day life and issues,” said Dr Shetty. Just tell them to vomit thoughts, whatever that comes to their mind, he suggested.

Experts stressed on the importance of schools, teachers and principals in handling such issues. “The children, if depressed, are more likely to be quiet and avoid long conversations, so keep it short, but identify the need to communicate first. And since they spend most of their time in schools, psychological vigilance is a must ,” added Dr Shetty.

However, doctors have advised that if they fail to communicate with the teenagers, schools or 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, religious treatment methods. As the disease of the body needs medicines, disease of the mind needs cajoling,” Dr Shetty added.

First Published: Aug 01, 2017 15:52 IST