The fainting game, Neknominate, Ice and Salt Challenge and now, Blue Whale Challenge … Over the past 15 years, these dangerous games have followed one another in playgrounds and on social networks. The imagination of children and teenagers is limitless when it comes to impressing their friends and making themselves popular, often accepting to face increasingly risky challenges. Latest fashionable activity : the Blue Whale Challenge.
The « Blue Whale Game » is one of the most harmful game. Based on a principle of challenges to be met, it would have prompted young teenagers to commit suicide. This game consists of taking a series of 50 challenges from the most trivial, such as drawing a whale, to the most morbid « Scarify your hand three times » and finally « Jump from the roof or hang yourself ». The name of this « blue whale challenge », refers to this ultimate commandment because the mammal is known to wash ashore voluntarily on the beaches to die.
Danger in the playground
Long before the appearance of the Blue Whale Challenge, playgrounds were already abounding in sordid practices. The best known is undoubtedly the fainting game, still in vogue among the 6-15 years old, this “game” consists in strangling to hallucinations, even to faint. Cardiac arrest is even likely if the brain is deprived of oxygen for more than a minute. But this “amusement” is far from the only one to arouse anxiety, and many other dangerous games flourish in schools.
Nowadays, unfortunately, the threat of these dangerous games that incite young people to harm themselves is multiplied tenfold thanks to the easy access to the Internet and social networks, especially because of smartphones. Children and teenagers can watch videos that give them new challenges, then they run to have the pleasure of spreading their own “exploits” on the web. Indeed, by filming and posting the realization of the « challenge », the teen receives many reactions from his circle of virtual friends and thus secures a certain popularity. Moreover, these videos encourage other young people to do the same, especially thanks to the principle of “nomination”: when a young post his “exploit” on the social network, he nominates several of his friends who will have to do the same.
Facebook launches “Challenge” war
What is the point of succeeding in a challenge if others do not see it ? Today, most dangerous games are recorded and posted on social networks. For example, recently, unconscious young people give themselves over to the « Fire Challenge », which consists in coating the body of inflammable substances before setting it on fire. Participants are filmed and have to extinguish the flames as soon as possible without burning themselves, then these images are shown on Facebook. A 15-year-old boy from Kentucky (USA) was thus finished in hospital, the body covered with second-degree burns. The concept continues to make fans all over the world, which is why Facebook is now undertaking to remove all the videos associated with this challenge. On the other hand, since the beginning of the year, another less radical but probably more perverse practice is in vogue : the « Ice and Salt Challenge ». To meet this challenge, it is enough to put salt on the skin, usually on the arm, before adding an ice cube. This gesture lowers the temperature of the area of the body to -20 ° C, which causes intense pain and can induce second degree burns. The goal is of course to hold as long as possible, and then post, as a trophy, the pictures of his injuries on the Internet.
The snowball effect
The growing popularity of some challenges comes from the fact that they can be launched at several people at once with a single click. To be drunk to death thanks to a designation of a Facebook “friend” ? This is the concept of Neknominate, named from the Anglo-saxon expression « to neck a drink », which means drinking in one sip. The participant posts a video on social networks in which he drinks a glass of alcohol (or even a whole bottle) in one go, then designates three people to do the same within 24 hours. This new version of « binge drinking » has already caused several victims and several ethylic comas around the world.
In France, a second challenge based on the same « snowball effect » is fashionable on the web : « In the water or in the restaurant ». Nominated on Facebook, you have to throw yourself in a frozen sea, pool or lake, if possible in bad weather, under penalty of having to pay a restaurant to a friend. Then you have to appoint three people to do the same. This new bet resulted in the drowning of a 19-year-old boy who jumped in water attached to his bike. Immersion in too little water or cold-water drowning is also part of the risks associated with this dramatic game.
Playing with life
The latest fashionable game : the “Blue Whale Challenge” goes even further than all the « games » quoted previously, the latter will directly pushed the participants to death after a certain number of steps. Appearing in 2015 on « VKtontakte » a Russian social network equivalent to Facebook, and which has more than 350 million users. On this network, groups of “death” appear and propose to their users to be part of a community whose ultimate goal is to kill yourself.
Once the teen has joined the group, a terrible countdown begins : 50 days after which the adolescent’s suicide must inevitably take place. These sordid challenges are crescendo : in the beginning, you have to get up in the middle of the night to listen to a depressing music, then scarify or lying on a railroad track. Gradually, these adolescents are mentally conditioned to want to kill themselves. 130 suicides are reported in the space of six months.
Although the security forces and the social networks themselves are trying to control and defuse this phenomenon, morbid « challenges » and other dangerous games continue to flourish on the Internet. The power of diffusion of social networks and their influence have almost become uncontrollable and go so far as to cost hundreds of lives …