mid-day editorial: Hack down copy-cat games trapping kids
It's only been a few months since the Blue Whale suicide game entered the Indian consciousness and, already, it seems to have spawned yet another game that poses a threat to our youngsters. This paper reported on a 15-year-old boy from Govandi who went missing, leaving a disturbing note behind for his family, stating that they should consider him dead. Investigators have confirmed that the boy could be playing a game similar to Blue Whale that also induces the player to take their life.
This opens up a worrying new dimension for parents and investigators. The fact is that the Blue Whale may be a many-headed monster, giving rise to a number of different variations and tweaks of the deadly game. Counsellors and educators responded to the Blue Whale reports in Mumbai with alacrity. They held workshops for youngsters and conducted awareness drives. Parents, too, took cognisance and began making some effort to find out what their children were up to on the Internet though, of course, it would be impossible to track what a child does through the entire day. Yet, it was helpful for adults to have some guidelines as to what to look for and when to ring the alarm bells.
But this recent report shows that it is unwise to take one's foot off the pedal. Mental health experts, the police and the cyber crime cell need to be on their toes and keep their eyes peeled for possible offshoots of this game. We can only fight a threat if we know about it. Those working with children also have to keep up the counselling, workshops and awareness drives, and also keep reinventing them to warn players not just about one game, but all its deadly variations. The Blue Whale may have spawned, and it is up to us to become aware of its poisonous progeny and sick siblings.