As far as I can remember, Blue Whale is a marine mammal, the largest animal known to have ever existed. However, past few weeks, I am hearing a lot about ‘The Blue Whale Challenge’, which unfortunately has nothing to do with the marine animal and everything to do with the shocking way of enticing young individuals to commit suicide at the end of the 50 day challenge. It’s a noxious game that ultimately leads to death of the person who is playing it.
Also known as ‘A Silent house’, ‘F57’, ‘A sea of whales’ and ‘wake me up at 4.20 am’, this sinister Blue Whale challenge was invented by a Russian, Philipp Budeikin. He was a psychology student and created this game to cleanse the society by pushing to suicide to those he deemed has no value for the society. Right now he is behind the bars but the game is still in circulation as it is not a downable game, app or software. .
It is believed that the administrators or curators of this game seek susceptible and vulnerable people through various online platforms and send them invitation to join. Every challenger has a curator who gives them the task to perform and then the challenger must take photograph of the task given and send it back to the curator for the next task to come their way. It is also being widely spread that once someone starts playing this Blue Whale Challenge, they can’t stop playing it till they finish the 50th task which is ending one’s life. They named it Blue Whale Challenge after the fact that Blue whales sporadically beach themselves deliberately and die
It is because when a person accepts the invitation, there’s a cookie attached to it that hacks the computer or device that the player is using and get their hands on the information available on it. That data is the leverage that curators use to force their targets to play the 50 day challenge. They either blackmail the person of leaking the information online or threaten to harm their family, if the person tries to not complete the game.
The Blue Whale Challenge involves 50 tasks: 1st would be carving F57 on one’s arm followed by waking up at 4.20 am and watching the scary movies that the curator had sent, followed by various tasks like inflicting self harm, listening to the music that curator had sent, climbing up on a crane and so on till you reach the 50th task which is taking your life.
The Blue Whale Challenge is designed in such a way that it pries on impressionable minds of youngsters. The allure of blue whale is such that even after knowing that it is pushing them to commit serious harm to themselves and number of cases of youngsters committing suicide has been reported across the country, youngsters are still willing to give it a try. For a parent, it’s a very stressful situation, as they would want to know if their child is playing this Blue Whale Challenge at the same time they do not want to infringe upon their privacy.
How do I know if my child is playing the Blue Whale Challenge?
After reading or hearing about the Blue Whale Challenge the first question that comes to mind is that, if my child is playing this challenge how would I know about it? What are the signs I should look for? As this perilous game is played online only, by invitation only and generally on mobile phones which are most of the time password protected, it is important to look for telling signs. We can look out for the signs such as:
- If the child’s behavior patterns have changed all of a sudden. Eg: an otherwise talkative child is keeping unusually quiet/aloof or a teenager who loved to roam about with friends is staying in his/her room most of the time.
- If the eating and sleeping patterns have changed. Eg: the child is not eating properly, not eating at usual time, not hungry at all or sleeping schedule going for a toss uncharacteristically is a sign that something is on their mind.
- Recently developed tendency to either stay up till 4.20 am or getting up at 4.20 am.
- Unexplained cuts and scratches, particularly when they appear regularly. How many times and how regularly can your pet scratch you? When they unusually start wearing clothing that covers them fully like full sleeved shirts all the time, could be sign of them inflicting self harm.
The signs should be observed carefully and the behavior is alarming only when it is sudden and unusual for the said person.
With the advent of various technologies, things are easily accessible to everyone. In today’s time, when latch key homes are a trend, both parents are working it becomes even more important to take care of the child’s mental health. Parents/ Guardians can make use of the following steps to make sure that their children trust them and know that the channels of communication are open to them:
- Have parental control mode on, on all the devices that the child uses, computers, laptop, mobile phones, so that they have access to age appropriate sites.
- Talk to the child; more importantly listen to the child. Give minimum of 20 minutes of your undivided attention to the child in a day while he/she is talking about their day. If we do this regularly, it would be easier for us to see the sudden changes in the behavior of the child.
- Keep yourself updated with new phenomena on the internet and around you. Encourage dialogue, share your experiences and guide them.
- Make it a house rule that no device or gadget go to bed with the child.
- Observe their behavior, any unusual moodiness, quietness can all be an indication that something is going on with the child.
- If you got to know that your child is, indeed, playing the Blue Whale Challenge, be direct with the child. Don’t act out of anger or hysterically. Communicate your concern and say we are going to help you. Support them and also inform the local authorities.
Teenage is a phase of life that brings a lot of confusion in a person’s life. Teenagers are looking for answers about their identity, what defines them, their place in society, among friends and purpose of their life. Proper guidance and monitoring their online experience till they understand what is right for them, what is worth their time is essential for their internet safety. A game should be a stress buster, something that gives you joy not something that sucks the life out.