Northamptonshire Police have issued a warning to parents tonight, Thursday, over a dangerous new social media challenge.
In a statement published on Facebook, the force gave details of warning signs for parents to watch out for and urged people to take the time to find out more about it.
A spokesperson said: “We are aware of a disturbing social media challenge circulating called the ‘Blue Whale Challenge’ which encourages teenagers to take part in a series of 50 challenges that culminate in committing suicide.
“This challenge first appeared in 2016 and tasks are given online or through text messages, instant messages or posts on Instagram and Twitter.
“Please talk to your children about the dangers and tell them not to open any messages or challenges of this kind,” the spokesperson said.
The police spokesperson said signs to look out for include:
• Children receiving messages or posts relating to Jonathan Galindo, a man that may also be seen with his face painted like Mickey Mouse or a dog (below)
• Receiving or making references to #f57, #f40 or #IMaWhale
• Extreme changes to their eating or sleeping habits
• Wearing long-sleeved loose clothing to disguise any self-harm marks
• Taking photographs of activities and sending them to accounts that parents do not recognise.
“If you have any concerns about the welfare of a child, call the child safeguarding team on 0300 126 1000, or police on 101. Always dial 999 if a child or an adult is in immediate danger,” the spokesperson said.
“It is important children know how to be safe and smart online and take sensible precautions. Make online safety an ongoing conversation. If you are a parent, carer, older sibling, or work with children, let them know they can come to you if something they don’t like happens online – whatever that is.
“Talk regularly about how they use technology, and find out what their digital life is like, including what their favourite sites and services are and also how being online makes them feel.
Not sure where to begin? Have a look at the UK Safer Internet Centre website for conversation starters for parents, tools to help manage devices including parental controls and how to use privacy settings on social media.