The harmful effects of technology have already sprung up closer to us than we think. The chilling suicide of a 14-year-old kid recently got many to shudder even in their thoughts and while police have yet to prove whether it was due to the Blue Whale game or not, the point is that Blue whale dare cannot be ignored. It has already claimed lives of 130 teens over the world. As a parent, I got psyched and tried going through my son’s internet history and then realised that trust is the bigger foundation than all. Parenting in today’s age is tougher than what our parents went through, not only do we have to raise kids in a more competitive world we have to handle more psychological issues. Childhood is no more a carefree age. It got even worse with the creator of the app chillingly stating that he was cleansing the world of such people who he referred to as “biological waste”. The term “biological waste” has been directed to teenagers who feel that they are worthless and their existence makes little or no difference to anyone.
We got Kirti Shah, MA Clinical Psychology PGDFP, Forensic Psychology, Dip Forensic Science to discuss this issue at large with us. This is her insight on the issue.One reason as to why this has been shocking is that most people find it difficult to understand the way in which the application has been successful in convincing teenagers to follow through all the levels of torture and finally make them able to proceed through the last level which is- suicide. Much raised question around it is; Why these teenagers did not attempt to back out or quit?. The answers to which, Yes! Attempt to back-out was made and few have been successful, however for the rest that continued fell into the trap of the administrator who apparently threatened the players to harm them or their loved ones.
‘Young minds are impressionable minds’, and they need to be dealt with in a way that is neither too optimistic nor depressing when talking about the way situations work out in life.
Most children are told that death means a direct ticket to heaven, which also involves joining the stars and shining in the night sky. This romanticist notion that death is beautiful, impacts the way in which children deal with their issues. Since they are so young and innocent, most parents state that talking in a straightforward way could shock the child. However, when talking with children about death, if it is observed that the child is starting to understand things around him, it is always better to explain to them that death is a natural life event and that instead of waiting for it to occur, or causing it to oneself, one could rather spend their lifetime in dealing with the positive and negative events that they are or will experience. On the other hand, when children are fed with the idea that death is beautiful, it is looked as an escape, a way to freedom that will ultimately give them eternal happiness. As these children grow into teenagers, they may perceive problems to be too depressing or challenging to be dealt with.
Strategies that can be used could be giving as much a realistic picture of death as possible. They should in no way be made to think of death as a way out of problems, rather they need to be explained the benefits of working through by support of loved ones. However, parents who are over-protective of their children and want to keep them as sheltered as possible not only weaken the child’s defences but can also aid in convincing them that getting away from a situation is the best way to keep oneself unscathed. Another way is that parents need to be involved with their child so that they are comfortable in communicating with them. Open communication between the parents not only strengthens the bond between the parents and the child but again aids in improving the way the child communicates with the people he meets with the outside of his home.
The biggest source of concern, however, seems to be the effect that technology has on children. The digital world has become the source of instant gratification, it is expected that the events that happen in their real lives need to show immediate results as well, but when that’s not the case, the behaviour displayed is that of irritation, panicking, and elevated mood swings. All of this combined makes the child more hostile. Teenagers today are so involved and influenced by social media, online gaming, adult content, etc that for them the interpersonal and real world is boring. Man as a social being at every stage of life has a need to be approved and accepted which is not fulfilled by Digit world; of course, the child does not understand this and starts feeling lonely and the game “Blue Whale Dare” target this low phase. While being in low phase and trying to prove once existence teenager starts getting individual attention and approval from the administrator at every step; accepting the challenges and completing them gives a sense of achievement. Parents today need to be very very vigilant about signs of internet dependency. Controlled technology usage may help in decreasing the child’s dependency. Monitoring of their virtual movements may help the parents in keeping the track of what information the child gets exposed to.
Death isn’t avoidable, however, suicide can be. Dealing with the topic may be overwhelming to many but it’d rather be discussed realistically than feed on the child’s idealism.
-Authored by Kirti Shah,
Ms. Kirti Shah has worked extensively with children as a counsellor independently and has also been associated with various organizations. She has a thorough academic background and immense experience to deal with children and adults as a mental health professional. Her insightful thinking with a therapeutic approach in dealing with clients gives her an edge in the field. She has been conducting workshops since past 10 years on various topics across India; her expertise in training the Shadow teachers has invited her to schools as well as clinics. As a Forensic Psychologist, she has worked on various tools and successfully reported cases. She is the founder Director of KNACK Ability Enhancement Services, has been guiding the team of professionals dealing with Children with Special needs. She has been a part of recruitment and training of KNACK team. Also has been a trainer for Brain Fingerprinting; Forensic technique and have conducted workshops for the same.