What is The Blue Whale Challenge?

“The Blue Whale Challenge” also known as “The Blue Whale Game” is a dangerous social media trend that encourages vulnerable young people to commit suicide. The game which is said to have originated in Russia over a year ago, requires players to complete daily tasks which escalate in intensity over a 50 day period. Many of these tasks include self-mutilation, sleep deprivation and exposure to disturbing images and music.

blood dotted carved whale in forearm

Photo : Drip46/YouTube

The daily challenges are tasked by “administrators” or “curators.” Each day, players must submit pictures or videos as proof of task completion. On the last day of the challenge, players must commit suicide to win. “Those who get cold feet and want to leave the game receive threats, often that their parents will be killed.” reports Bloomberg View.

Girl in bed with laptop at night

Photo: Higgypop.com

At first, players could search for an administrator by downloading the app on Apple’s iOS store or Google Play. The apps have since been removed, but it’s alleged that administrators can still be found using special hashtags or through social media chat group sites. Instagram has a special warning message to users searching for Blue Whale hashtags.

#BlueWhaleChallenge Instagram warning

Currently, there is no firm evidence linking the Blue Whale Challenge to specific teen suicides in Russia or elsewhere.  Urban legend or not, many countries around the globe are taking precautions and raising awareness to this dangerous social media trend. Recently, many concerned educators and authorities across the U.S. have been issuing information to parents as well.

What Can Parents Do?

Dr. Barbara Greenberg who specializes in adolescent psychology warns, “Depressed kids who are isolated are susceptible. Parents should monitor changes in behavior.”

Dr. Justin W. Patchin, Co-Director of the Cyberbullying Research Center advises, “there are ways to remain on high alert without living in a state of panic,” and offers these tips to parents:

  • Be in the conversation with your kids: Who are they communicating with? What are they seeing online?” Having the kind of dialogue where they want to show you the disturbing things they see online, rather than hide them, is what to aim for. And using good judgment in how we respond to such revelations is important to keep that dialogue open. “If we freak out and threaten to take away the device, they won’t come to us anymore,” Patchin says. “This becomes harder as kids get older, so it’s important to instill [the dynamic] at a young age.”
  • Look for changes in technology usage. “If you have the kind of kid who is connected a lot and suddenly wants nothing to do with technology — or if they suddenly get disproportionately upset with limits you set,” such as no phones at the dinner table, “then something is going on there.”
  • Also, if you have the type of relationship that includes a healthy, ongoing dialogue and all of a sudden they are less forthcoming about what’s going on online, Patchin says, “that’s a cue you need to do additional prodding.”
  • Bottom line: The youth are the experts, so it’s highly likely they’ll find out about disturbing trends before adults. “So routinely have these conversations about what’s going on online,” he says.