Dangerous Consequences

Internet challenges prove harmful to teens, scare parents

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Dangerous Consequences

Photo by Blaine Young

Photo by Blaine Young

Photo by Blaine Young

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Online challenges have started becoming viral trends around the globe with kids of all ages despite the consequences one’s health can face.

The Blue Whale Game began on a Russian social network where game administrators seek out teenagers and then convince them to kill themselves. It is common in Russia and Central Asia, but it has spread to the United States.

Two teenagers have been traced in the U.S., including a 15-year-old boy from San Antonio in July.

The game comes from the common belief that whales voluntarily beach themselves to die, which is why the players of the game are called whales. It asks each player to complete 50 tasks, with the last task encouraging suicide.

High School Curriculum clerk Yolanda Valdez, who is a parent of three Flour Bluff elementary-age students, was completely unaware that this deadly game even existed.

“First of all, I think there has to be communication like you have to talk to your parents. You can’t be doing random things people are sending you online,” Valdez said.

Valdez believes that parents should be talking to their kids more and watching the things they do online to make sure they aren’t tempted to engage in risky behavior.

“I really think parents have just got to be aware,” Valdez said. “Some parents don’t do social media so they don’t know what their kids are into. They don’t know what their kids are doing.”

Anybody struggling with thoughts of suicide or depression, call the national suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255, 24 hours a day.

Tasks in the Blue Whale challenge involve inflicting self harm, watching or listening to disturbing music or videos, facing fears and even accepting death.

The online creators of this challenge are known to be suicidal, but it has been reported in the news media that before they take their lives, they’re going to take as many people as possible.

From November 2015 to April of 2016, between 80 and 130 Russian teens have committed suicide, but none have been confirmed by police to be connected to the Blue Whale challenge.

Rina Palenkova was a 17-year-old girl who has been connected to the Blue Whale challenge and seems to be the most popular person associate with the challenge.

Right before her death, she posted some photos on social media with the simple caption “goodbye.” The photos received hundreds to thousands of likes before getting removed, which seems to be the case with other people who have been connected to the challenge.

Russia is currently trying to seek out the game developers, but the administrators have been difficult to find. Even when the Russian government shuts down one of the administrators, another appears online.

Another game causing harm to young people is the Blackout challenge, more commonly known as the choking game or fainting game. The point of the game is to to pass out for only a few seconds, but some attempts have resulted in death. The goal of these challenge to experience a high without having to do any drugs.

“There (are) all types of things that can happen to you,” Valdez said.

Not only would a young person risk their life, but they could also cause brain damage due to lack of oxygen to the brain.

“That used to be thing when I was in school, like junior high,” Valdez said.

Also common in Corpus Christi was the salt and ice challenge. This challenge asks the player to layer salt and salt on top of the ice on one’s skin.This causes a chemical reaction that burns the skin. Players see who can resist the pain the longest.

This dangerous challenge can cause second and third degree burns similar to frostbite, along with some possible nerve damage.

Even though the injury might appear to be a small burn, it can also cause skin discoloration.

Some post challenge videos on social media or race a friend to see who can stand the pain the longest.

Social media tends to glorify some of these challenges, making it seem like they are okay.

“Social media is such a big thing now for kids and whatever you can get likes on and what can get people to notice you,” Valdez said.

Valdez believes that there should be a change in communication  between kids and adults so that adults will be informed about dangerous games.

“How can we help the kids if we don’t know about it?” Valdez said.

Valdez said she had no knowledge about some of these challenges and was in disbelief that people would engage in such risky behavior.