Several city schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) have sent circulars and advisories to parents asking them to monitor their child’s Internet usage and offering them support of school counsellors, if needed.
The circulars were issued in the wake of reports of teenagers committing suicide allegedly as part of the Blue Whale Challenge, an online game that encourages players to kill themselves after a series of challenges.
Earlier this week, CBSE had issued a circular on guidelines for safe and effective use of internet and digital technology in schools and school buses.
Dakshayani Kanna, principal of Harvest International School, which issued a circular last week, said they were conducting a workshop for parents this weekend on ‘games’ such as the Blue Whale challenge and online gambling sites. In her opinion, children must be mentally strong to not fall prey to pitfalls of World Wide Web.
“As a school, we believe that we cannot and should not stop students from using the Internet. But, it becomes imperative to monitor their activities and make them aware of the dangers. Access to mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and computers make our children more vulnerable owing to uncontrolled access to inappropriate content...,” Ms. Kanna said in the circular. She also urged parents to have “open conversations” with children, monitor their routine activities and watch out for changes in their moods.
Schools have also listed websites that offer parents tips on how to broach these subjects with their children.
Bindu Hari, director, National Public School Educational Institutions, issued a similar letter to their schools urging principals to create awareness among teachers and parents. “Disastrous incidents of students posting inappropriate images of themselves on the social media and addiction to online games and cyberbullying are increasing,” she wrote. Teachers have been given guidelines on how to facilitate discussions. The school’s counsellors will reach out to students, if needed, she said.
The Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka has sent out messages to managements to ensure “timely intervention” if children need help.