Murderous Online Games - How to Protect Our Youth?
Blue Whale is a murderous online social media game which entices young people to take on challenges instructed by an online administrator called the “Master” over a 50-day period. Also called A Sea of Whales and A Silent House, this game lures young teens to their death eventually. The teens are encouraged by the administrator to commit suicide on the final day to win the game. This online game is believed to be responsible for the death of more than 300 teenagers till now!
Drawing parallel to the Slenderman game in the US, this is just one instance of infamous killer games that can be played online and result in horrifying crimes. With the disturbing cases of teens committing suicide while streaming the act live on Facebook abound, the question arises as to how to protect the youth to differentiate between online manipulation and real life. I. For Parents Emotional support
Like adults, children too need emotional support to be empowered enough to reject games such as Blue Whale. Common signs friends and family need to look out for include being withdrawn from social gatherings, persistent depression and unhappiness, crying and irritability, worries that stop them from carrying out daily tasks. Angry outbursts, problems in eating or sleeping and lack of interest in activities enjoyed previously are also warning signs.Consult a Specialist
Seek out a medical expert to speak to your child and treat injuries that may result from teens self harming themselves. Specialists such as counsellors and therapists could also be helpful. Talk To the Teachers
Teachers are increasingly aware of self harm and mental illness faced by the child. The school should be able to provide a detailed understanding of how the child is coping and name members of the staff who may be able to help. This could also include the school nurse, counsellor or class teacher. Clear communication matters
Clearly communicating with your child and letting him/her know that you care for their wellbeing is important. Take out the time to not just talk, but actively listen to your child as well. Young internet users with depression and thoughts of self harm may use the internet's seamless communication to perpetuate suicidal behaviour. Communicating well and clearly can make a difference to the life and well being of the child. Increase Web Safety
Parents and educators can also help youth surf the web safely and prevent them from engaging in online abuse through web safeguards. Monitor the sites your child visits by searching the web history. Keep tabs on your child's surfing habits and encourage young people to openly talk about things that concern them, online or otherwise. Strengthening the teen-parent bond
You need to be there as a parent for your child. Check for withdrawal from social activities or early warning signs that abuse could be experienced. Signs of self harm can be linked to the challenges of the Blue Whale Game. Most children who take part in this game may send out a cry for help before harming themselves. You need to step in and safeguard your child through timely interventions and continuous interaction that allows them to express their feelings, thoughts and concerns. II. As a SocietyCounselling and social support
Those in need of help need you to be open minded and understanding. Society needs to reduce the stigma towards teen mental health issues and help those who are suffering. Depression has social stigma attached to it, leaving the child affected feeling scared of rejection or judgmental attitudes from others. Mental health issues can affect anyone from any age or background. One of the most common signs of this disorder is feeling trapped into making wrong choices and taking part in the Blue Whale game could be one of this. Laws in place to protect teens
By proliferating social media groups with vulnerable youth, the game entices youth to complete 50 self harming tasks and challenge their limits. Teens across US, India, Brazil, and other nations have faced the ultimate consequences of this game. This game was started in Russia where it has already claimed the lives of many youngsters. Cases of suicide have been reported in Argentina and Britain too. Governments and society need to have laws and sanctions in place to block such deadly games. Breaking through the supportive mask
Bad academic performance or being treated badly by peers can make children vulnerable and these games, with their supposedly supportive administrators talk juveniles to mutilating themselves or ending their lives. Society needs to change the perception that these games are for a positive purpose. The aim should be to denigrate these killer games and condemn them across the community. III. Media Responsibility Coverage of sensitive topics in responsible way
The media often sensationalises cases and glorifies violence. There needs to be a change in the way online manipulation is depicted in movies, games and other mass media. Topics that are sensitive such as poor exam performance, peer pressure and bullying need to be covered in a way that is sensitive and understands the world of the teen rather than subjecting them to further stigma. Positive role models for children
Philipp Budeikin, a former psychology student who was expelled from his university and imprisoned for three years, perpetuated this deadly game. The Russian youth were the first to be targeted by Budeikin and his team and this twisted game perpetuated a very wrong role model for the children to follow in the form of the murderous administrators of the game. Media needs to portray positive role models who stand up to pressures and work their way through life's issues with equanimity and confidence. Giving youngsters a positive role model they can look up to can serve as a powerful countercurrent to lethal games like Blue Whale. Socially responsible depiction of such games
Social media sites need to have stricter laws in place to ensure socially responsible depiction of such lethal games. The Blue Whale game deserves to be exposed and unmasked for what it is - a murderous attack on young teens using mind manipulation. The media has an important role to play in depicting such games in stark and real light, so youngsters don't glorify people like Budeikin and take their own lives.
Close to 310 deaths have been linked to this deadly game. With the advent of social media and online streaming, the internet has become a source of escape for youngsters. But unfortunately, they are likely to be targets of online manipulation with lethal consequences such as Blue Whale. Curated to seek out teens who want to be accepted and liked, this game offers rewards for successful challenges completed. Society, parents and the media need to join hands to safeguard the youth against such deadly games.