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‘Maryam’ App spreads fear among teenagers’ parents

‘Maryam’ picture as displayed in the application.

KUWAIT: “Maryam” application is the newest controversial game, with a basic rhetoric of attempting to lead a lost girl back to her home by asking the player a series of personal questions based on psychological implications and fear factors. This brings back to minds the infamous suicide-enabling “Blue Whale” application, which cost many disturbed teenagers their lives worldwide. Maryam App had spread fear in social media, as it requires allowing access to the personal settings of the players in order to know their names, besides other personal information.

The App has similar interacting effect on the player as Blue Whale; while the latter attempts to work on the suicide of the player, ‘Maryam’ is not. It is based on social engineering and depends on smartness, in addition to automated information analysis through a conversation between the App and the player. ‘Maryam’ depends on physiological implications and fearful sound and visual effects, said cyber security and electronic crimes’ expert Major Raed Al-Roumi said.

The player is asked to turn off the lights and increase the volume, as there is a set of questions and demands given on a daily basis, and if the player refrains from following them, the game ends automatically, he noted. The App would ask personal questions, like the name and address of the player, as well as political-oriented questions. This is game violates laws of banning the publishing of immoral sites, he added.

Al-Roumi, along with a group of electronic experts launched a wide attack in social media to access the game, delete and change the questions to cope with the traditions of the Gulf society, which caused the game to stop for several days. The App came again after deleting the immoral scenes, as well as other controversial questions. Al-Roumi called on Arab programmers to exert efforts, as well as channel their creativeness, towards the development of Arab children “instead of creating games that frighten our children for the sake of financial gain.” Preventing children under the age of 13 from accessing these kind of online games is an option, he pointed out.

Al-Roumi stressed on the importance of educating the children not to disclose any personal information while playing games, accessing social media, or opening links. He hailed the role of concerned families in following up with their children and not to leave them alone for long periods of time in total isolation, as well as offering them an appropriate special search engine like “google for kids” for their own online safety. – KUNA

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