GUWAHATI, Aug 30 - The Assam Police today issued an advisory to parents to monitor the social media activities of their children in the backdrop of the Blue Whale challenge, an online game involving a series of dangerous tasks.
The advisory was issued after a Class X student inflicted injuries on himself playing the online game. The boy, admitted to the GMCH, had cut marks on his hand.
�Recently a few online games have become popular among youth who are glued to their mobiles, computers and are addicted to excessive video gaming. Some such harmful games like �Blue Whale�, �A Silent House�, �Sea of Whales�, �Wake Me Up at 4:20 AM� etc. involve emotional and psychological conditioning of the players,� the advisory said.
As most cases involve teenager victims between 13 to 19 years of age, the Assam Police advised all parents, teachers, guardians and members of the civil society to be vigilant about such cases. Parents/elders in the family have been advised to monitor and regulate the online surfing activities of their minor children. Certain parent monitoring apps and software available via Internet may be used to keep a check on the surfing and download history. Teachers and civil society have been appealed to encourage an open discussion about cyber and social media awareness among children.
Some of the early noticeable signs and symptoms of such dangerous game addictions are depressed and violent behaviour, isolation, self-harm, late night and early morning Internet surfing, secret chatting, etc.
�Any such case suspected may be urgently brought to the notice of medical doctors and reported to Assam Police. (WhatsApp number of Assam Police: 7086055100),� the advisory said.
The head of psychiatry at the GMCH, HR Phookan, said it is difficult to say how the games motivate the player to inflict harm on himself.
�When a player starts playing the game, he or she does not know what is there in the future stages. In later stages, the player is asked to do certain things like watching horror movies, waking up at odd hours, standing atop high rises or bridges. These tasks remove the fear,� Phookan said.
The task keeps getting tougher with each passing day. After overcoming the fear, the players can inflict injury to themselves and even commit suicide, which is the final stage (50th) of the game.
Such horrendous games by brain-washing mostly teenager victims have so far claimed more than 100 lives worldwide, including in India.
The boy, currently admitted to the GMCH, is undergoing treatment. Doctors said despite the counselling, he still wants to continue the game. �It will require some time before he comes out of it. We have also put him on medication,� Phookan said.