A day ago, I received a link that led to a story about a teenager in Kenya who committed suicide after playing an online game called Blue Whale. From what I gathered, the game has about fifty stages which a participant has to surmount and then report to a curator. The first hurdle reads: curve with a razor ‘f57’ on your hand, send a photo to the curator. The fiftieth stage of the game reads: Jump off a high building; take your life. There are stranger things in between which a participant in the game must do. I will spare you, dear reader, the crazy details. So the youngster who was playing this game got to the last stage and took his life. To win the game. Breath in, breath out.
Reportedly, the game has killed around 130 teenagers in the world so far. That is, about 130 families (I am hoping we did not have siblings participating in the game) have been robbed of a child thanks to a social media game called Blue Whale. To get the correct picture of this, imagine your little sister or brother committing suicide to win a game. The man behind Blue Whale suicide ‘game’ says he’s ‘cleansing society.’
In Kenya, the game was officially banned by the Kenya Film Classification Board because according to the law, it is illegal to expose children to any content that is suitable for adults only. I did not know that last bit. All very good intentions.
I had a brief conversation with a friend (about this Blue Whale game) and this friend sparked this article:
“Are we as a society becoming dumber by the day? Who sees an instruction to commit suicide and actually follows it with the hope of winning a game eventually?” she posed.
But this made me think about the challenges of the post-digital (a point where digital technology has become so ubiquitous, it ceases to be exciting, according to an article by Adam Tinworth) society that we live in today. There is so much at our disposal – guns from goons for hire, Blue Whale game, strangers breaking people’s heart via the internet… the list could go on. The line for what is ‘normal’ is almost not there. Cheekiness and truancy can be excused as a trait of teenage, but just how do you explain someone who is actually dead? And now the digital era that we all clamoured for has become commonplace…
I am not a parent so I will not pretend that I have an idea of how to raise children. But I have suggestions especially to my generation who might be parents to teenagers in the next 25 years. I can guarantee you, the technology and the allures of teenagers to do much stranger things will have risen beyond the point of being contained. And no matter how many Ezekiel Mutuas will be employed at the time, no regulation will be able to comprehend anything. I just have a feeling that by then, it will be possible for us to just touch walls and video-games from far away continents will flood into our houses. We might not even need laptops or the internet by then so do not count on getting a password for the Zuku Internet in the house or not buying your kid a laptop until they are 21 to help you protect them from the maddening technological advances. I have a feeling that by then, all they will need to access content from Australia will just be light leg tapping.
So if you intend to have a baby after 10 years and then raise them to teenage over the following 15 years, this is a summit meeting for us. I think that we will need a lot of preparation to deal with the insane tech that will have invaded our world.
Laws do not change anyone
I am sorry but I do not believe law changes anyone otherwise crime and drugs would be a thing of the past in Kenya. Yes, law deters crime, I know enough to know that lawlessness is a dangerous place for a country to be in but that is a story for another day.
What I am saying is that as we prepare to raise these future youngsters, we need to begin by acknowledging that true change must begin at a very personal level and because of this, we must bear in mind that with all the information that our children will be taking in, we will need to raise them in such a manner that they will have more on the inside than in the outside so that they will be able to withstand the immense pressures that will be hitting them.
More than anything else, we will need to be role models to our children
I do not know what other careers will be invented after ‘socialite’. I hear that people can actually post their nude pictures online now. I am guessing that in the next 25 years, we will have people posting their internal organs – you know, like pancreas and gizzards. I do not know what chance teenagers of that time will have. So as parents, we will need to really plan our time and this “spending quality time” with our children will need to move past the conference halls to the homes where it all matters In the absence of these, I see an ocean of possibilities. A bad ocean with bad possibilities.
Walk with your children through every stage of life
Again, this will be a lot more work than I estimate is happening with the current crop of parents with teenage children. With TV cables probably connected directly to our children’s heads by that time, I foresee a very difficult time for parents and this takes me back to the first point. We must, from the outset, bring up children that are instilled with the will, the moral wherewithal and the capacity to discern the influences that come into their lives.
These are just preliminary suggestions. I hope future parents can meet for a summit and please note: it is okay to resign at the summit meeting because truth is, what is facing us is not be an easy task. Let us not even get started on the bad economic times.