Internet games that can harm children

Sahana Charan

BANGALORE: A few days ago, the media reported the death of a 13-year-old in Mumbai who had hanged himself in his room. His parents shockingly revealed later that the teen was part of a group that visited websites which taught children to play a game of cutting oxygen supply to the brain to get a temporary high.

This is probably the first reported case in India. Websites that give such dangerous information to children can cause much harm, and while such sites have to be regulated, parents should be alert about what children are doing in their free time, say psychiatrists.

“The game is a new phenomenon in India but it has been around for sometime in the United States and the United Kingdom causing much anxiety to parents. Temporary asphyxia is known to give some sort of sexual gratification and many people try to choke themselves to get a high. Unfortunately, most parents may not be aware of such Internet games,” said Sunita Simon, consultant psychiatrist at the St. John’s Medical College Hospital.

According to G.A.S.P (Games Adolescents Shouldn’t Play), a global non-profit campaign started by families of choking game victims all over the world, choking game victims number as many as 473, with the U.S. reporting the highest number of incidents: 320. Of these, only a few have survived the ordeal while most have died.

“The Choking Game is a misunderstood activity causing death and suffering for thousands of families worldwide. It often begins with high-achieving teens choking each other as a way to get a high without the risk of getting caught with drugs or alcohol. It ends with thousands of children dying or suffering permanent brain damage each year,” says the G.A.S.P website.

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