Adarsh Kohli, Professor in Clinical Psychology, at PGI’s Department of Psychiatry, talks to The Indian Express about the Blue Whale-linked deaths and panic among schools
There is panic among parents regarding the Blue Whale game. How do you see it?
The panic is obviously there because the children are engaging in online activities, which can be dangerous. I feel this trend of children engaging in online activities, staying aloof, distancing from parents has gradually crept in our society. We are going towards individualism and independence. The reason is we no longer are able to monitor our children or have time for them; children also dislike questioning and interference.
There are Blue Whale-linked deaths reported in the country. How can parents play a role here to save their children?
The game engulfs the vulnerable who have a tendency to be alone, quiet, suggestible and psychologically distant from their parents. Unless the communication with the child is open, free and flexible, there’s nothing that the child will hide from the parents. I think the parents need to teach children to control. Parenting tips need to be given so that parents are participative and involved in the child’s activities.
Schools are also issuing advisories to parents. What needs to be done from their side?
School and home are both responsible for children getting into addictive habits like online games. One cannot do it suddenly and impulsively one fine morning. It’s a huge investment of time and energy on part of the parents.
Some suggest cellphones should be taken away from the children. Do you think it is a right step?
Disciplining is a process that has to be cultivated when the child is very young. Taking drastic measures like these will not help. There is a need to talk about life skills, handling stress, conflicts, relationships that will build a strong individual competent to face the challenges of the world.
What kind of support you think is required for those children who are coming forward accepting that they are also involved in the game?
If a child is involved in the game, he should be assessed for other co-morbid disorders like depression at a Psychiatry Clinic. Only a good rapport and detailed history will reveal the addiction history. It might take a few sessions which is the job of experts.