Johannesburg – The Film and Publication Board has called on parents to be vigilant after they had been made aware of the so-called online suicide game known as Blue Whale.
The apparent suicide game made news this week with claims that it was heading to South Africa.
But one cyberspace expert said the app was already here as it can be downloaded from the internet.
Tech expert Arthur Goldstuck said that Blue Whale was not new as it had been around for at least a year.
And while the media claims the game has been responsible for the deaths of 134 teenagers, this information is unverified.
After signing up, the user is assigned a curator. This curator then issues tasks over the next 50 days.
These tasks can be anything from listening to a certain song, watching unsettling videos and waking up at odd times, to much more extreme requests such as cutting words or whale symbols into one’s skin.
“It is a formalised kind of bullying, the purpose of Blue Whale is to break down the teen so they commit suicide,” he said.
Goldstuck added that more should be done to address the issues surrounding teen depression.
Not only can users download the game online, but reports claim that those interested in playing the game can find curators on social media sites by using hashtags such as “blue whale”, “sea of whales”, “I’m in the game”, “wake me up at 4.20am” and “F57”.
The game is reported to be invented by 21-year-old Philipp Budeikin from Russia. At the moment, he is reportedly being held by Russian police.
The FPB said it issued the warning because its primary mandate was to protect children and vulnerable members of society against exposure to disturbing and harmful material.
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) says it is aware of the Blue Whale game.
The group is carefully monitoring the situation, but warns that parents themselves should be watchful and prepare and control their children’s access to the internet.