After school, Akash loved to spend his afternoons hanging out and playing in the open field.
There’s something magical about this playground. The area was always filled with the laughter and giggles of the young. Akash met a few boys there and forged a friendship with each and every one of them. This playground acted as something of a detoxifier for a generation of youths who were weaned on tablets and other gadgets as their only outlet.
One day, the kids found that a part of the field was occupied by construction material. Gradually, that playground was being taken over by builders from an adjoining construction site. They were constructing sheds and damaging the grass on the field. The children were not allowed to play near that portion of the ground.
Locals protested, but eventually the builders won, because they were enterprising enough to hire some muscle to scare the protesters into submission. They erected a fence to prevent the kids from entering the playground.
Ever since he was young, he has had a passion for sports and competition. But after this incident, Akash fell into depression as he had no place to play.
He was missing all of his playmates. Meanwhile, his exams had begun, and he was experiencing an immense amount pressure at school.
Lying in the corner of his room, he often thinks about his friends and misses the time they shared playing in that open green playground Gradually, he started spending more time on social media. It disconnected him from his real life. Online interactions are easier, whereas real-life interactions are harder but more meaningful and rewarding. Obviously it takes more care to nurture it.
He was spending hours after hours on social media. He was constantly checking his newsfeeds throughout the day. One day, he gained access to a link to the Blue Whale Challenge game. He started playing the game and his obsession became very deep.
The first few days, Akash spent on posting personal details and photographs, which were collected by the Blue Whale admin. He accomplished every task that was given by the admins and kept moving up the levels.
Social and economic changes prevent us from becoming one with nature, and they impede a child’s God-given right to play outdoors
He has now passed the point of no return as the final challenge asked him to take his own life.
Akash was bright, athletic, and popular. He was loved dearly by his many friends. Through it all, Akash grew up to be a good-natured, even-tempered young man. Being deprived from a fundamental right guaranteed by the state pushed him to suffer from depression.
This made him the perfect candidate for heinous virtual “games” such as the Blue Whale Challenge.
Children’s education has become much more competitive these days. Social and economic changes prevent us from becoming one with nature, and they impede a child’s God-given right to play outdoors.
As per the Article 31(1) of United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC 1989), all state parties are responsible in ensuring children’s right to play and their recreation.
Bangladesh ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on August 1990.
Despite this, the state continues to jeopardize the rights of children to play in the open field.
Miti Sanjana is a Barrister-at-law from Honorable Society of Lincoln’s Inn and an Advocate of Supreme Court of Bangladesh and an activist.