What Is the Blue Whale Challenge?
The Blue Whale challenge is an online 'game' consisting of 50 challenges that an individual is intended to complete, one by one. Each challenge becomes progressively riskier and more dangerous – including, for instance, watching horror movies, waking up at odd hours in the night, and acts of self-harm. In the final task, the individual is asked to take their own life.
The Blue Whale challenge was created by a 22 year old psychology student, Philip Budeikin, who incited several teenagers to end their lives. He has been suspected to suffer from a psychiatric illness, and while he has been arrested, the game is still broadly popular online.
Why Do Teens Do It?
In order to help young, impressionable minds, it's important to understand why they would engage in such games in the first place.
Teenagers who are suffering from a psychological condition or facing difficulties at home or in school are likely to be insecure and vulnerable, making them easy targets of such games.
Pressure from peers can drive young people to engage in activities in order to be accepted in their friend circles. Some children are more susceptible to being affected by the attitudes and behaviors of their friends.
Psychologists have suggested that certain personality traits, like thrill seeking and being adventurous, make an individual more likely to fall prey to such games. Children who are victims of bullying may also play such games in order to gain a sense of approval for performing these tasks.
Taking Action – What Can You Do?
It's important to be educated about peer pressure and its effects. Such awareness can play a critical role in helping you inculcate confidence and assertiveness.
- Be Assertive
You have the right to say 'no'. Realize that you have the choice to do – or not do – something. If you do not feel comfortable with someone or something, do not be afraid to speak up.
- Be around Friends Who Can Support You
It's important for you to have a social network of friends who are supportive of and respectful towards you.
As parents, you need to give the right guidance and support to your children, so that they can feel self-confident and are less vulnerable to the perils of the internet.
- Be Aware and Supervise
You should make yourself more aware of cyberbullying and other dangers that your children may be facing online. It is vital for you to exercise some degree of supervision over your children's online activities and to have regular conversations with them, so you are aware of any struggles your child may be facing and can take steps necessary to address the problem.
- Talk to Your Child
Talk to your child about peer pressure, but do it in a setting that is comfortable and non-threatening for both of you. Do not try and be instructional; instead, hear them out and listen to what they have to say. This will help build trust and encourage your child to reach out to you when they are disturbed.
- Help Them Be Assertive
Tell your children that it's okay to say 'no'. You can also help them rehearse ways to stand up to peer pressure and come up with alternatives to build their confidence.
- Build Awareness
Schools are key drivers for spreading awareness and promoting the psychological well-being of students. As teachers, you also play an important role in encouraging open discussions about mental health.
- Look Out for Warning Signs
You need to ensure that you are trained to identify the early signs of emotional difficulties and mental health problems in children. It is important to refer children who have experienced a stressful event and are exhibiting behavioral problems or signs of depression to the school counselor.
The Blue Whale challenge is a wake-up call that embodies the important role that all of us – teenagers, parents and teachers – have to play in preventing further such tragedies. It also highlights the need for identifying the early signs of mental illness and taking timely action for the treatment and rehabilitation of those young people struggling with psychological difficulties.