Parents beware of NekNominate – A game that has claimed 5 lives!
NekNominate is a new drinking game in town, and it’s important that you know what it’s is all about, the danger it poses and how it involves social media.
Even though my kids are still very young, stories of cyber bullying no doubt grab my attention. I’ve even heard horrific stories of teens who have committed suicide after being bullied online.
In most of these stories social media sites like Facebook, twitter and YouTube had played a big role. Bullies use these sites to post or share pictures of their prey for the whole world to see, and encourage others to make fun of them.
The reality is it takes only seconds to share a photo on social media and in minutes hundreds, if not thousands of people have viewed it. Pretty terrifying, isn’t it?
Now just when you thought cyber bullying via social media couldn’t get any worse – here comes NekNominate!
What is NekNominate?
This is a new and fast-spreading online drinking game. A report on CNN says it was thought to have originated in Australia and soon spread to the UK, and is now spreading to the US as well.
According to Wikipedia, the original ‘rules’ of the game is for an individual to film themselves ‘downing’ a pint of an alcoholic beverage (usually beer) and then nominate 2 or 3 of his or her buddies to do the same within 24 hours. This videos that are filmed are then shared on social media for their friends to see.
As crazy as it sounds, this caught on and soon people started filming themselves drinking all kinds of bizarre mixes of alcohol and challenging their peers to follow suit. There is even a Facebook page dedicated to NekNominate which contains some rather disturbing videos.
A YouTube search will also bring up some shocking videos, like one where a boy throws a dead mouse into a blender in which the drink is being mixed, and another where two friends help a another friend stand upside down to drink an alcoholic beverage he just poured into a toilet bowl.
The danger of NekNominate
The obvious danger of this drinking game (other than it being a drinking game!) is the drinking of unhealthy amounts of alcohol, and the bizarre concoctions people challenge themselves and others to drink.
In a February 2014 report, CNN stated that 5 deaths were linked to this game. One of these was of 20-year-old Bradley Eames from Nottingham, UK, who was found dead after drinking 2 pints of gin mixed with tea bags.
But this drinking game is not only affecting young adults and teens.
The latest victim was a 9-year-old girl who passed out after she allegedly drank almost half a pint of a mixture of whiskey, wine, vodka and orange juice. Thankfully, she survived after her stomach was pumped.
The role social media plays in the Neknominate craze
You must wonder how a 9-year-old got swept into a drinking game! Apparently, two of her friends had encouraged her to drink the cocktail after they had seen the NekNominate videos on Facebook. They had gotten their hands on the alcohol in one of the girls’ parent’s cupboards.
It is scary to think that such small children can get dragged into dangerous fads that go around in social media circles. But once children, or teens for that matter, are exposed to social media, there’s no telling what they’ll see or engage in.
Most teens and kids who take part in this game do so because they are pressured by their peers. When someone is challenged to film themselves drinking a crazy cocktail but fails to do so in the allotted time, they are openly teased and bullied.
Is action being taken?
After NekNominate went viral on social media with 5 people losing their lives because of it, politicians in the UK have demanded that schools play a bigger role in educating children about the dangers of alcohol.
UK opposition spokesperson Diana Johnson said, “The Facebook drinking game NekNominate has gone viral, and very sadly young people have died as a result… What role do schools have in building resilience in our young people to resist peer pressure?”
We also cannot ignore the role social media sites like Facebook play in all of this. Although many people have asked these sites to take action against people who use them as platforms for dangerous games such as NekNominate, The Guardian said that Facebook claimed that they are “reviewing videos linked to the craze, but the posting of such material is not a breach of our rules or community standards.”
Facebook also said, “We do not tolerate content which is directly harmful, for example bullying, but controversial or offensive behaviour is not necessarily against our rules. We encourage people to report things to us which they feel break our rules so we can review and take action on a case by case basis. We also give people the ability to remove themselves from an uncomfortable conversation through tools such as untagging and blocking.”
So what can we do to protect our kids?
We should not wait for schools and social media giants to take action against such dangerous fads such as NekNominate. As parents, we have the responsibility and opportunity to protect our own kids before disaster strikes.
Here are some tips for protecting your kids from dangerous fads like NekNominate:
– From a young age, have open discussions with your kids about the dangers of alcohol.
– Talk to them about fads and the dangers associated with following them.
– Show them that it is important to have good friends they can trust, and teach them how to be a good friend.
– Try and get to know your child’s friends.
– Even as your child grows, talk to them about their interests and hobbies, and even about their friends’ interests and hobbies.
– Talk to your child about social media and the dangers of abusing it. Tell them what they can and cannot share, especially online.
– Keep in mind that you are not snooping if you want to keep a tab on your kid’s Facebook page, and who they are sharing their information with and ‘friending.’
– Teach your child about cyber bullying and how to be resilient to bullying, i.e. to say NO to it and, most importantly, not to participate in it.
– Finally, make sure your child knows that you will love them no matter what kind of trouble they are in, that they can talk to you about absolutely anything and that no problem is too big for you to handle together.
We hope this article shed some light on the subject of NekNominate and cyber bullying, and gave you some ideas on how to protect your child from it. Parenting is a tough job, so we must do what we can to help one another.
Had you heard about NekNominating before you read this story? What are your thoughts on it? Please leave a comment to let us know.