Over the past few weeks, a new online drinking game known as 'Neknominate' has grown in popularity. It’s a game that involves completing an alcoholic drinking dare (oftentimes mixed with other items) and then nominating someone else to outdo the dare as quickly as possible. It also involves posting a video of the act on social media. However, if the person nominated does not respond, then they are often criticized by friends.
This new social media craze has even started to spread to primary schools, as seen with the 10-year-old boy who posted a video of himself drinking a mixture of vodka, Nando’s sauce, and mayonnaise. Thankfully, he’s okay, but it shows that much younger kids are now getting involved in the game as well.
As part of the discussion around Neknominate, it’s being argued that social media sites should post warnings about engaging in such behavior. But what about the role of parents? What can they do to help prevent these incidents? One way parents can get involved is by talking to their children about digital citizenship, and how, aside from the obvious health risks associated with drinking games, posting material like this online is damaging to their digital reputation.
To get the conversation started, parents can check out resources such as A Platform for Good’s digital citizenship flashcards. One aspect of digital citizenship is standing up for yourself or others when an issue arises online. Parents should speak with their children about how to say no when asked to participate in a harmful online activity. A good way to facilitate the conversation is to ask “What do you do when you see behavior or content online that may be inappropriate?”
It's also important that these teens and tweens understand that engaging in trends such as Neknominate hurts their digital reputation. This can affect friendships, relationships, and even future university admissions and job prospects. It is important to think before you post anything online. These teens should ask themselves if what they are posting is something they would be okay with their friends, family, teachers or maybe even potential employers seeing. A way for parents to get the conversation started might be to ask, “If someone found a profile of your online, what would they say about you?”
Finally, social media can be a powerful thing when used for good. Instead of nominating others to “chug” a beer, nominate someone to commit a random act of kindness. 19-year-old Alyssa Roy is doing just that – she is nominating others to post random acts of kindness as an alternative to Neknomination. This is just one way that social media can be used for good, but there are many other possibilities as well.
Just by touching on these topics, parents can help their kids get a better understanding of good digital citizenship, and also help them better understand the consequences of negatively engaging in social media.
Cover image courtesy of Flickr.