In early June, the alleged mastermind behind a sick teen suicide game was finally caught and arrested by police.
Postman Ilya Sidorov, 26, allegedly told investigators he had developed an elaborate online game involving 50 tasks, the last of which required the young players to kill themselves.
After a string of suicides, parents across Russia and Europe were warned about an online game called Blue Whale.
Another alleged suicide game “administrator” Philipp Budeikin, 21, is also being held by the Russians on charges of inciting at least 16 schoolgirls to kill themselves by taking part in his social media Blue Whale game.
Ilya Sidorov has been arrested and is detained until further investigations are complete. He is
is accused of encouraging a 13-year-old Russian girl to kill herself.
Sidorov was asked in a video interview, “What was the final task? How does the game end?”
He replied, “to commit suicide.”
Reports say he “fully admitted” his guilt and faces up to five years in jail.
What is the Blue Whale suicide game?
The Blue Whale game is an online social media group where members have 50 days to complete a series of dark tasks like cutting, self-harm, and sleep deprivation.
Those behind the scenes, called “administrators,” instruct the tween and teen players to commit suicide on the 50th day.
So, parents, would you want to know if your child was being manipulated by a sociopath? Or developing a friendship or romantic relationship with a stranger?
The majority of teenagers don’t consider meeting strangers online taboo, with 6 in 10 saying they have met at least one new friend online.
Teens are also texting and communicating through online games and social networks more frequently than they are spending time together in person. And of those tweens and teens who meet people online, one-third also followed up with an in-person meeting.
These findings are part of an in-depth study from the Pew Research Center aimed at understanding how online interactions are shaping the social lives and identities of American teens. The research found that the line between the virtual and real worlds has almost completely blurred. This generation of kids say that they can develop deep and meaningful relationships both in person and online, with people they have never known in real life.
“The digital world has taken its place alongside school and friends’ houses and extracurriculars as a place where teens go to make and strengthen friendships,” said Amanda Lenhart, author of the report “Teens, Technology & Friendships” and an associate director of research at Pew. “Like it or not, this is where our teens talk, plot, laugh and fight with some of the most important people in their lives.”
While the implications of online social activity among teens is not yet clear, many parents, child development experts, and law enforcement officials warn that the intensity of online interactions is presenting new pressures for kids and for their parents.
FOMA, or fear of missing out, is causing tweens and teens to cellphone addiction, which is not healthy for the still developing brain of a child.
According to the survey of 1,060 teens ages 13 to 17, texting remains the most popular form of digital communication. More than half of teens say they text friends every day, and three-quarters do at least every few days. Only 25 percent of teens say they are able to meet with friends in person outside of school hours every day.
Even with their closest friends, teens are spending as much time at each other’s homes as they are on social networks or gaming platforms. And those digital spaces are far more popular than hanging out with friends at coffee shops or the mall, according to Pew Research.
For boys, online gaming has become the center of social activity, with 84 percent of teen males playing video games. Boys are more frequently making new friends online with six in 10 saying that they have befriended a stranger via games or other apps. For 40 percent of these boys, the first piece of information they share online is their gaming handle. Boys also report feeling more connected to people while gaming, even to people they have never met in real life.
Not only do parents need to talk with their children about the dangers of talking with strangers online, but they need to increase their own awareness of the latest cultural trends in the ever-changing world of adolescence.
The most effective way to do this is to use Social Judo, which sends alerts directly to a parent’s smartphone. Parents get to choose which information they want to be alerted to.
In the example of the suicide game, “Blue Whale,” if a parent had set an alert for “Blue Whale” they would have been notified, in real-time, if their child had used that phrase or was playing along with the game’s administrators.
Parenting in the 21st century requires a different approach. There are way too many risks sitting in the palm or our children’s hands.
Parents, you can do better, you can parent smarter, and you can keep your child safe in the digital space he or she occupies.