Why do teens and tweens take these dangerous online challenges?
You all see it as parents, and many of you might fall into the allure of numbers of “likes” and “friends” on social media just like teens and tweens do. This generation of kids are driven by social media, often addicted, and getting more depressed and anxious every day.
Who is most susceptible to engaging in online challenges like Blue Whale? While there is no exact profile of the kids who have been involved so far, the most vulnerable youth seem most at risk.
It has been reported that the “administrators” of Blue Whale seek out potential victims using social media. Once they find the most isolated, lonely or depressed children, they offer them a chance to feel special, being chosen to play this sinister challenge is what administrators use to make the child feel wanted, a part of something and special.
The challenge requires kids to go through 50 tasks in 50 days, the last of which is to commit suicide. The administrators use sophisticated psychological strategies to get control over their victims’ minds. Sleep deprivation is one of them.
Players are required to get up at 4:20 am on most days of the challenge, and they always have to show proof to the administrators that they are following orders. Sleep deprivation, very quickly, will significantly impair one’s cognitive process, reducing their ability to use rational and logical thinking and problem-solving.
Other sinister tasks required by Blue Whale administrators;
1.Carve with a razor “f57” on your hand, send a photo to the curator.
2. Wake up at 4.20 a.m. and watch psychedelic and scary videos that curator sends you.
3. Cut your arm with a razor along your veins, but not too deep, only 3 cuts, send a photo to the curator.
4. Draw a whale on a sheet of paper, send a photo to curator.
5. If you are ready to “become a whale”, carve “YES” on your leg. If not, cut yourself many times (punish yourself).
6. Task with a cipher.
7. Carve “f40” on your hand, send a photo to curator.
8. Type “#i_am_whale” in your VKontakte status.
9. You have to overcome your fear.
10. Wake up at 4:20 a.m. and go to a roof (the higher the better)
11. Carve a whale on your hand with a razor, send a photo to curator.
12. Watch psychedelic and horror videos all day.
13. Listen to music that “they” (curators) send you.
14. Cut your lip.
15. Poke your hand with a needle many times
16. Do something painful to yourself, make yourself sick.
17. Go to the highest roof you can find, stand on the edge for some time.
18. Go to a bridge, stand on the edge.
19. Climb up a crane or at least try to do it
20. The curator checks if you are trustworthy.
21. Have a talk “with a whale” (with another player like you or with a curator) in Skype.
22. Go to a roof and sit on the edge with your legs dangling.
23. Another task with a cipher.
24. Secret task.
25. Have a meeting with a “whale.”
26. The curator tells you the date of your death and you have to accept it.
27. Wake up at 4:20 a.m. and go to rails (visit any railroad that you can find).
28. Don’t talk to anyone all day.
29. Make a vow that “you’re a whale.”
30-49. Every day you wake up at 4:20 am, watch horror videos, listen to music that “they” send you, make 1 cut on your body per day, talk “to a whale.”
50. Jump off a high building. Take your life.
This week it has been reported that two teens in the United States have taken their lives while participating in Blue Whale.
Parents need to be hypervigilant about this, and any other dangerous online challenges that could result in serious harm and even death.
Watch for changes in mood, increased isolation, cutting or marks on arms and hands. If your child insists on wearing long shirts or pants at inappropriate times, that could be their attempt to hide the scars from you and other adults.
The easiest way for a parent to know if their child is playing Blue Whale is to set an alert using Social Judo. If you set an alert for the words “Blue Whale” or “suicide game” you will get an alert, in real time, when your child uses those phrases while online. Social Judo covers every aspect of your child’s smartphone; social media, texts, emails, or chat apps, you will be notified immediately.
Social Judo creates the parenting moments necessary to keep kids safe and healthy.
Andrea Difilippo is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, nationally recognized parenting expert and Chief Parenting Officer with Social Judo.