With so many digital dangers and threats online, it can seem like a full-time job keeping children safe. Their well-being is extremely important to both parents and grandparents alike.
We constantly need to be on the lookout for cyberbullying, online predators and even internet addiction. You can add this ridiculous online challenge to the list of things to worry about. It's already been behind the deaths of multiple teenagers.
What's the deadly online challenge spreading across the internet?
What we're talking about is the "Blue Whale Challenge." It's been making the rounds on social media sites like Instagram, SnapChat and Facebook. You're not going to believe how it works!
The "game" is being shared on these social media sites. Once someone accepts the challenge, they are connected with an anonymous curator. The curator tasks them with completing a number of challenges over 50 days.
The challenges start small, like listening to a specific song or watching a horror movie. They get more extreme as the challenge continues, for example, some are asked to cut themselves.
This all leads up to the final task on day 50, which is for the person to commit suicide. Unbelievably, there are multiple examples of this happening.
The most recently reported teen to take his life due to the Blue Whale Challenge is Isaiah Gonzalez. He was a 15-year-old from San Antonio, TX.
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) July 13, 2017
Teachers around the country are very concerned. One school superintendent emailed every parent in his school district addressing the Blue Whale Challenge.
He wrote, "It's very concerning because these apps are targeting a very vulnerable population. Users are encouraged to tag friends on social media and 'challenge' them to participate in the game."
School officials across the country are asking parents to speak with their kids and check into their social media history. Look for the use of hashtags like #BlueWhaleChallenge and #BlueWhaleCurator.
Whenever a child's safety is involved, you should take precautions. Here are some more ideas on how to keep kids safe in the digital world:
- Have open dialogue - You need to talk to your kids about online safety. Let them know the risks that come with being online and that they can speak with you anytime a problem arises.
- Set parental controls - Take advantage of the parental control settings on your child's gadgets. These will help keep them from accessing inappropriate online content.
- Install security software - You can prevent some online risks with security software. It can even help you block certain apps from being installed on your child's gadgets.