Wednesday , October 18 2017

Online game ‘Blue Whale’ cyber nightmare: experts – Social, family solidarity key to battling threat

KUWAIT CITY, July 27, (KUNA): In recent years, cyberspace has become the venue for several viral games and challenges, which promoted humanitarian causes and deeds; however, this world is not always rainbows and sunshine.

Blurring the fine line between fact and fiction, the nightmarish online game ‘Blue Whale’ made headlines worldwide due to the suicide of several teenagers after completing a set of 50 outrageous dares and challenges.

The notorious reputation of the game had spread like wildfire across the globe, leading several countries to issue warnings against this menace, which led to the death of some 130 individuals in 2015-16.

On the subject, a number of security specialists and academics told KUNA that it was important for families and Kuwaiti society to spread awareness on the matter before the youngsters fall into this dangerous trap. Brainwashing as well as spreading hatred and negative thoughts are the biggest components of this dreaded online game, cyber security and electronic crimes advisors Raed Al-Roumi gave his general impression on the Blue Whale.

Vulnerability

Al-Roumi, who is also a retired Interior Ministry Colonel, added that this game took into consideration the vulnerability of the teenage psyche, making crazy acts such as self-harm, as well as ridiculous and dangerous challenges seem fun and entertaining.

One of the dares include the use of razors to draw a whale directly on the skin, which gave the game its namesake, said Al-Roumi who indicated that after the Blue Whale reaches the end, it would ask the players to end their lives.

If a child decided to pullout and end his or her participation, the game starts to issue threats against family and loved ones, which forces the players to carry on with this madness, he pointed out.

The good news that the person behind the game, a 21-year-old Russian and former psychology student Philipp Budeikin, was arrested but the danger still remains because the game is out there and it is still a threat, said Al-Roumi who called on parents to follow up on their children and make sure that they do not become victims.

On his part, Professor at the Department of Psychology in Kuwait University (KU) Dr Khider Baroon said that the daring factor of the Blue Whale was one of the major attractions for teenagers, who become very obsessed with the game.

Similar to what happens in video games, the Blue Whale has a set of challenges that encourages players to “go down the rabbit hole” in return for fake milestones and accomplishments, said Dr Baroon.

Society has a huge responsibility in protecting children from the Blue Whale, said the academic, stressing that parents should not push their kids away, leaving them with feelings of isolation and hopelessness.

Promoting family values and getting closer to the young ones via different platforms is the most important weapon against this devilish online game, which offers only “damnation,” affirmed Baroon.

On the same wavelength, fellow KU academic and Professor of Social Studies and Anthropology Dr Mohammad Al-Haddad said that the Blue Whale was successful in blending fiction with reality, indicating that the game was a classic case of how easy teenagers could become brainwashed.

Through such games, a person could manipulate players into doing almost anything and with the advent of life-imitating video games and online applications, the line between reality and fiction ceases to exist, said Dr Al-Haddad.

The idea of beating the Blue Whale is not farfetched, affirmed Dr Al-Haddad, adding that social and family solidarity will stop the game from claiming more victims.

 

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