What Makes Teenagers More Vulnerable To The Blue Whale Challenge?

The Blue Whale game is a daunting menace and is taking over our teens. Well, I guess the game doesn’t need an explanation or description. It is all over the media. But what we must think about is those who are getting affected the most.

Now, people of every age group use the internet. I remember a time when I was a teen and the first time I used the internet was when I was preparing for my engineering entrances. But today, I see my 7- year-old neighbour watching Doraemon on Youtube, all on his own.

It’s silly to think of life without the internet, now. However, we can definitely monitor what our kids do online to some extent. It may make you a grumpy parent for your kids, but surely it can help avoid ‘games’ like the Blue Whale Challenge. This isn’t a parenting tip and neither do I have the experience for it. So let’s talk about the other reason why our teens are falling prey to this deadly game.

According to the eminent neurologist, David Eagleman’s book “The Brain: The Story Of You”, the medial pre-frontal cortex (mPFC) part of our brain becomes more active in a social situation when one moves from childhood to adolescence. At this very point of time, social stimuli carry a lot of emotional weight, resulting in a self-conscious stress response of high intensity. To simply put it, we become more susceptible to the social situations around us and tend to reply drastically without a proper analysis of the resulting consequences of our actions. Our brain becomes emotionally hypersensitive and it sets us up to take risks.

As we move from childhood to adolescence, our brain shows an interest in areas related to seeking pleasure. Whereas, activity in the orbitofrontal cortex – involved in executive decision making, attention and simulating future consequences – is still about the same in teens as it is for children. Cumulatively, teens are not only emotionally hypersensitive but also are less able to control their emotions than adults. Moreover, the areas involved in social considerations are more strongly coupled to brain regions that translate motivation into action. This suggests why teens are more likely to take risks when their friends are around.

Almost all of us had a phase in our life when we wanted to do the exact opposite to what our parents forbade us to do. The more we try to stop our them from playing this game, the more we increase their keenness to try it. So should we not stop them? We should, but in a proper manner.

It is our duty to counsel our teens, giving them a proper explanation to each and every aspect of the brutality of the game and make them understand the fatal consequences. The fact to remember is that we can’t stop our teens from this pandemic by just separating them from the internet or by locking them up in a dark room. We need to talk to them.

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