Drinking too much, too quickly can be dangerous. No one should feel bullied or pressured into doing it. Yet, NekNomination – the online challenge to “down your drink” – has been popular on social media.
Participants film themselves quickly drinking large amounts of alcohol in one go, in often bizarre and risky situations, and nominate someone else to continue the game in 24 hours’ time, and post the video on Facebook or Twitter.
NekNomination has sadly been linked to the deaths of young people in the UK, which is why it is essential everyone understands the risks involved in taking part.
If you have been NekNominated yourself, we can help you decide what to do and how to respond.
Watch Dr Sarah Jarvis talk about why NekNomination is a worrying trend:
The risks of NekNomination
Your body can only process around one unit of alcohol an hour. Drink a lot in a short space of time and the amount of alcohol in the blood (your Blood Alcohol Concentration or “BAC”) can stop the body from working properly. Overdosing on alcohol can stop your heart or breathing, or you could choke on your vomit. In extreme cases, you could die.
Learn what to do if you or someone you’re with has alcohol poisoning.
Increased likelihood of health harms
Drinking a large amount over a short period of time can put you in greater danger from having an accident or alcohol-related feelings of depression or anxiety.
Accidents and risky behaviour
As Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) rises, so does the risk of accidents. In NekNominate this risk is amplified because participants are encouraged to film themselves doing a stunt, such as walking into a busy road, whilst drinking or after they’ve drunk a lot of alcohol. Alcohol can slow our reactions and upset our sense of balance and coordination, making these stunts even more dangerous.
What to do if you’ve been NekNominated
You can say “no” – you really don’t have to do it
Our research found that young people are more than twice as likely to have had an alcoholic drink if they have felt encouraged to do so1. The majority of 15 year olds we asked (82%) hadn’t drank alcohol at all in the week we asked2.
There’s often a lot of pressure to get involved in NekNomination and it might feel like everyone is doing it, but that’s very unlikely to be the case. You can say no. If you’re unsure on how to react you could try to get advice from someone outside of your social-circle like a trusted friend or a teacher.
1. Un-tag yourself: Many younger people we speak to say they’ve un-tagged drunk photos of themselves they didn’t want others to see. Being pressured or pressuring someone to take part in something like NekNominate is bullying. One way to take back control is to un-tag yourself from a post and delete it from your Facebook timeline.
2. You can also block the person who tagged you which stops them from being able to tag you in anything else or contacting you on Facebook. If the photo is abusive, you can report it to Facebook.
You can get more information on what to do with abusive photos in Facebook’s Help Centre
3. Pre-approve posts you’re tagged in. There is a chance that posts you’re tagged in might be seen by prospective employers and universities. “So while it may seem like a lot of fun at the time, the potential for negative consequences are no laughing matter,” says Dr Jarvis. Facebook allows you to manage your privacy settings so you can pre-approve posts. To do this, visit www.facebook.com/settings
4. Do something good instead. RAKnomination is turning the negative peer pressure associated with NekNomination on its head. It’s a social media campaign where participants record themselves carrying out a Random Act of Kindness (RAK) and nominate their friends to do the same in 24 hours – anything from carrying someone’s shopping to sharing your umbrella.
RAKnomination have a Facebook page you can visit to find out more.
Advice for parents
Parents can talk to their children about resisting pressure to get involved in this potentially fatal game. Try adapting the above advice for the conversations you have with your children.
Remember that it’s never too early to explain to your children that if they choose not to drink alcohol, they will not be alone.
If you would like more advice on speaking to your child about potentially difficult subjects, like alcohol, we have resources in our Underage Drinking section.