There have been a lot of news and discussions about the “Blue Whale” game over the last few days. And it all started with the suicide of a boy in Mumbai’s Andheri area. Though the police have not yet found anything to link his death to the game, the words “Blue Whale challenge” made an entry in social media – triggering both curiosity and panic. Reports of other Blue-Whale related incidents followed– from Solapur, Dehradun, Indore, Kerala, West Bengal, Delhi, Jaipur and Punjab. Not only in India, there have been allegations of Blue Whale-related deaths in Russia and Europe also.
Experts point out that youngsters might be trying the game because of curiosity and thrill. And now that almost every parent became cautious about the downloads on I-Pads, and mobiles; they are talking more with kids about their favorite games. There are even orientation sessions on “Blue Whale” game. Recently there have been police advisory to parents to “Watch for abnormal activity in children, depressed and violent behaviour, long lonely online hours, late night surfing, avoiding company of family members, concealing online activity (and) spending more time on the internet” The police advisory also asked parents to spend more time with their wards, and encourage them to participate in outdoor games.
Against the backdrop of such growing concern around the ‘The Blue Whale Challenge’, a new game is in limelight today. It is called the ‘Pink Whale’ or ‘Baleia Rosa’ game. The game aims to spread ‘love’ and ‘happiness’ to counter the effects of the online suicide game. Created in Brazil in April, the game has already become popular on the internet, with more than 300000 followers on Facebook and 45000 on Instagram. Available on Android and iOS, this game, features challenges which lean towards kindness and loving oneself. The players are called pink whale puppies.
Like Blue Whale, this game has 50 challenges. Unlike Blue Whale, where the victim is supposed to carve a whale on their body, Pink Whale challenges the player to write something nice about himself on his skin (with a marker). Other tasks include calling grandparents, looking in the mirror and giving a motivational speech, shouting in the middle of the street that the player loves self, etc. The fiftieth challenge is named, unlike the motive of its notorious twin, ‘save a life’. The motto of the game, according to its website, is ‘to spread love’.
I appreciate the effort of the app developer who invented the “Pink Whale” game. He is trying to influence young minds towards positivity. But as a Gen Xer parent, how much of ieverything can we actually take?
There’s a famous quote by Donald L. Hicks “Those who teach the most about Humanity aren’t always humans”. That’s true. And that is why our kids relate more to cartoon characters; and marvel superheroes. But our are very vulnerable and lackadaisical about being safe online. So Gen Xer parent has a big role to play here. Here are few tips for parents:
1. Trust children but keep your eyes open: It is a good idea to trust children. But, keep your eyes open. Involve them in discussions. If they play a particular game, play with them. Be a child again, and experience why your kid/kids love that game. Always keep a close watch on what your adolescent does on their social media sites and the internet. For that you cannot act as a spy, but act as a friend!
2. Teach gadget hygiene: Let your kid learn to alocate few designated hours for TV and gadgets. They should keep gadgets away while studying, having meals, and family talk times.
3. Know your child: Monitor the behavior of your kid. Usually when studies get difficult, children tend to gravitate towards the Web and get enticed into all the wrong stuff. So if you notice any trouble with homework or difficulty with studies, support your child instead of scolding them. If you figure out any change in behavior, have a chat.
4. HEAR: Be a good listener. If your kid/kids wants to say something, HALT whatever you are doing and pay full attention. ENJOY a breath as you choose to receive whatever is being communicated to you. ASK questions. REFLECT back to them what you heard. This tells them that you were really listening. Once you HEAR, your kid will imitate you for sure!
5. Be the Pink Whale: Be the pink whale to your kid. Teach empathy, compassion, grit. Spread love.
“Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.” – Believe in them. Teach them love. For children spell love T.I.M.E.