An online game that has been trending as #BlueWhale has widely spread panic and fear among parents and teachers alike. The game that is said to have claimed the lives of many vulnerable teenagers across the world, is a rather disturbing setup.
What is the #BlueWhaleGame?
Originating in Russia, where so far, it is claimed to have caused the deaths of many teenagers, the Blue Whale Game comprises of a selection of dark and deeply disturbing tasks. The concept behind the name of the game is the fact that Blue Whales are known to sometimes “beach” themselves and take their own lives. The online game is referred to as a “brainwasher” where teens are targeted by the curators of the game when they follow certain hashtags. These curators then contact the said teenagers and ask them to download the game onto their mobiles. The teenagers are told explicitly that there is no way out once they start the game and that they will end up losing their lives. It is suspected that once the game is downloaded, the curator is capable of hacking into the mobile of the participant, although this is still under investigation.
What happens in the game?
Over the course of 50 days, the curator will remain in contact with the participant and order them to fulfil one task per day. Each task will begin as watching horror movies and psychedelic videos forwarded by the curator at odd hours of the night and escalate to self-harming such as carving the shape of a whale or a number onto their arms or legs. Each task needs photographic evidence to be approved of. On a psychological aspect, the game tends to severely manipulate the minds of teenagers through these tasks bringing on a state of depression and low self-esteem thereby instilling into their minds the idea of suicide. Towards the 30th day, the curators tend to ask the participants to stand on the edge of a bridge or tall building, removing the fear that they may initially have towards the idea of death. On the 50th day, the participant is asked to take their own life.
Please rt to make awareness of this horrible game, also known as the ‘Blue Whale Game’.
This is awful and sickening. pic.twitter.com/ocHRNuP3Pj
— Sydney 🎆 (@AnimeNerd1991) April 29, 2017
Why do teens take up the challenge?
Teen years are known to be the toughest in any kid’s life. A number of personality changes sometimes tends to be alienating and emotionally turbulent. The majority of kids on social media express depressive thoughts mostly during their teen years and this could potentially be a trigger for them to start playing the game. Another possible factor could be peer pressure and the need to be part of the “cool” crowd who are not afraid of anything.
Is it in Sri Lanka?
Apparently so, recently a 14-year-old teenager in Sri Lanka too his own life by hanging from his mother’s shawl out of which he designed a noose. Roshan Chandragupta, Principal Information Security Engineer, Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT), has alerted parents and teachers to remain aware of everything that their child has access to and is doing on social media. Investigators on several occasions had tried to contact curators of the game as participants and sent in photoshopped images of self-mutilation to gain their trust, but none has worked out so far, that they could be traced.
Is social media to be blamed?
In a direct approach, yes. It could be blamed largely on social media as it is the medium for this online pandemic. However, in retrospect, it is also important to identify any underlying mental reasons that could push children towards taking part in a fatal and in reality, a pointless game. Parents and teachers have started staying vigil and several schools in UK and India have already banned any use of social media within the school premises while parents said they had done the same at home. Many parents and teachers have openly spoken to children about the issue and advised then on how to stay safe. #staysafe is a trending hashtag on Twitter that works on spreading awareness and communicating with individuals to ensure everyone stays updated on how to keep their children safe.
Intelligent use of social media and safety on the internet are essential components that have to be stressed on if this game is to be taken down. The only way for it to fail is for every teenager to stop playing it. The awareness that these curators are just faceless anonymous characters who intimidate vulnerable minds is something that has to be taught. Spreading positive messages on social media, reaching out and sending positive self-empowering thoughts to teenagers who are likely to be affected or have started the game are other ways of fighting this social media plague that has, so far, ended many young lives.