The answer to this big question on our minds can be simple if we want it to be. As a mother of two boys still in their pre-teen years, it is a big concern sifting my heart every day, with everything that they do. It is estimated that so far the game has claimed 130 lives across Russia and other central Asian countries where it has gained notoriety. That should give us a clue into the disturbing implications of this game. It’s time for us to know how to safeguard our children on the internet and protect them online.
Blue Whale and its implications
Generated online, the Blue Whale game comprises ‘guides’ and ‘participants’. This guide gives 50 sinister tasks to the participant such as watching a horror film at wee hours of the morning or writing something on their arm with a sharp knife. The participant then come back with proof—generally in the form of photographs—that they have completed the task. The 50th and the final task is to commit suicide by jumping off a high building.
The Central government of India has already directed internet companies like Facebook, Google, WhatsApp and Yahoo to remove all links to the challenge and take off material that is connected to the challenge.The creator of this game, I don’t wish to name him and make him a hero, is a Russian who is now behind bars.
What gives me hope is that this phenomenon is not as pervasive as is being perceived in media reports.First thing’s first, the news that these kids indeed committed suicide following a Blue Whale Challenge is not corroborated yet. Let’s take the case of the boy from Calcutta, who is believed to have taken this challenge. Bharati Ghosh, superintendent of police in West Midnapore has said: “Ankan Dey did not take the Blue Whale Challenge… The boy did not have a smart phone. He surfed the internet quite often from a computer in his father’s shop. We have examined all his online interactions and reached the conclusion that he did not take any such challenge.”
Many reports that mistook this for a death related to Blue Whale based it on statements from some friends, who said that he was fond of video games. Ghosh said that many friends told the police that he was fond of video games but they hadn’t even heard of the Blue Whale Challenge. All this, adds to the worry of keeping children safe online.
At the same time, there is no denying that some cases—particularly of the boy from Mumbai who committed suicide by jumping from the terrace of a 7-floor building in Andheri and of the Class 7 student from Indore in Madhya Pradesh who was rescued by a teacher—seem to have a connection with the Blue Whale Challenge. It has been reported the survivor confessed to his principal that he tried to jump off the building to complete the challenge.Note that these claims are not completely verified by the individuals or the authorities as well.
Tips to protect children on the internet
Whether this game is on or not, it is always important to maintain some security for your children when they are accessing content online. We’ll take you through a quick guide on how to do that.
Parental controls on gadgets and regular emotional contact with children can help you to keep away from a menace like the Blue Whale Challenge. All browsers, apps, websites and internet service providers these days have parental controls. Make sure to use them. They help you to disable access to harmful content for your children.
Let’s see this QuickHeal antivirus I have downloaded on my child’s computer.
Go to Parental Control
Select All Users for a child’s computer. If you want your child to use your computer, set it for Specific Users
2. Click on Not Configured
This will give you options of what you want to control.
3. For Internet Browsing, you can control access to some categories
Mark Deny for categories you don’t want to provide access to. Mark Allow for categories you want to allow access. Select ok.
4. You can also control access to particular websites:
Things to remember about online safety software
Most anti-virus software and applications follow a similar format. Remember, apart from launching such controls, there are many other things parents can do to help their child stay physically and mentally healthy. Firstly, it is a good idea to limit the screen time for your children.Monitor their online activities from time to time so you know what they are watching.
Paying attention to your child should become a habit. Give them your complete attention at least 1 hour in the day.And most importantly, give them unconditional love.
Have some ideas on how to provide security to your children while they surf? Tell us in the comments below.