Do Blue Whale Warning Messages Do More Harm Than Good?
Messages listing out all the tasks of Blue Whale Challenge have been doing the rounds for weeks.
For over a week, social media has been flooded with messages on the Blue Whale Challenge. The messages range from silly jokes to messages aimed at discouraging people from playing the game. But there is only one thing ‘wrong’ about these messages – they provide details of the entire challenge, which some believe could be a trigger for teenagers.
The Blue Whale Challenge is a game where vulnerable teens have to take a series of 50 challenges, ranging from waking up at odd hours to self-mutilation to eventually killing themselves – all this while sharing their experiences via social media with the administrators.
Messages That Detail Everything
‘The Blue Whale Challenge, Bengaluru Edition’ – this was one among many messages circulated. The WhatsApp forward, which begins with a disclaimer that it is a joke, lists out challenges like driving through heavy traffic, taking a dip in the perpetually frothing Belandur lake, etc.
While there are several other silly jokes on the subject, the primary concern is around these messages listing out all the challenges – unedited, graphic details of the tasks to be performed by participants.
These include several tasks causing physical harm, suicidal stunts, and finally suicide itself, have been described in graphic details in these messages.
Why Spread Such Messages?
Riya Menezes, mother of two boys, 11 and 14, says that several WhatsApp groups, including that of her sons’ school, have been filled with such forwards. “It was very hard to go through the content of these messages, and when I raised my concern, many parents said it was important to know about it. But my problem is that if these messages are coming to me, it could also be going to my children,” she argued.
Messages Not the Real Concern
However, Satish Mathew, another parent, pointed out that these messages were not the real concern. “I don’t think children of this era need a WhatsApp message to get these details. A simple Google search would give them the same results. The real solution should be to have a conversation with the children about this issue,” he said.
Has the Challenge Been Over-Hyped?
Dr Shaibya Saldanha, co-founder of Enfold Foundation, working in children’s safety, said in the hype around the Blue Whale Challenge, the real psychological issues faced by children are being missed. “There is not enough evidence to suggest that the Blue Whale Challenge is not a hoax. Although several child suicides have been linked with the Blue Whale Challenge, there has not been enough evidence to suggest it is widespread,” she said.
According to her, there has to be a deeper investigation into these cases. “The child could be suffering from several psychological problems, and it is important to understand the concerns of each child,” she said
A senior police officer, while commenting on the Blue Whale Challenge, said that the Bengaluru police are also spreading awareness against this new problem. However, in cases where Blue Whale Challenge has been alleged, no evidence to support this claim have been made,” said the officer.
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