New Delhi, Aug 30: Alarmed by the recent reports of youngsters allegedly committing suicide, the government has issued an advisory against the 'Momo' challenge', an online game similar to the Blue whale that targets children, especially teenagers.
The advisory, issued by the ministry of electronics & IT comes in the wake of recent reports of two persons allegedly committing suicide in northern West Bengal.
West Bengal police recently said the challenge claimed the lives of two people, months after similar reports connected to the 'Blue whale challenge'.
The ministry has issued guidelines to parents on how to protect their children from the game and how to look for its signs and symptoms.
The advisory has also asked people to look out for signs and symptoms including 'becoming withdrawn from friends and family' and 'persistent low mood and unhappiness'. It also asked parents to check in with their children and assess if there was 'unusually secretive behaviour' on their part.
The 'game' features the image of a girl with a distorted face and eyes bulging out called the "Mother Bird by Link Factory", according to reports.
Advisory to parents
- Check in with your child, ask how things are going. Ask if there have been things stressing them, or anything that has them worried. If your child is talking about any level of distress, do not hesitate to ask them about changes in mental health.
- Unless there is reason to believe your child already knows of or has played the game, don't discuss about the Blue Whale game. By doing so, you increase the chance that your child will search for it on their own.
- Monitor your children's online & social media activity to ensure they are not engaging with this game.
- Keep your eyes open for:
a)Unusually secretive behaviour, mostly related to their online activity
b)A sudden increase in the time they spend online, especially social media
c)Theyseem to change screens on their device when approached
d)They become withdrawn or angry, after using the internet or sending text messages
e)Their device suddenly has many new phone numbers and email contacts
- Install a good cyber/mobile parenting software which helps them in monitoring your children.
- Parents should take reports from child counsellor present in the school at regular intervals.
- If you fear your child may be at risk, get professional help right away.
- Remind your child that you are there and will support them as they face life challenges.
- Becoming withdrawn from friends and family
- Persistent low mood and unhappiness
- Looking worried that stops him/her from carrying out day to day tasks
- Sudden outbursts of anger directed at themselves or others
- Loss of interest in activities that they used to enjoy
- Visible marks like deep cuts or wounds on any part of the body of the child
The Association's West Bengal unit general secretary Nabarun Dey told PTI, they did not receive any report about student of any school having received such message, nor had the Association been given any 'Advisory' by the CID or the police till date on the issue.
However, going by media reports "two days ago we have asked the member schools to undertake sensitisation drive among children and their parents about the danger, inherent of certain on line games like 'Momo' and 'Blue Whale'.