Reports that two young Irish men have died as a result of what’s called a ‘Neknomination’ calls into question the use of social media to drive peer pressure.
#STOPneknomination (please share the # on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram)
The drinking trend believed to originate in Australia and coined “Neknomination” involves the “neknominator” who, after posting a video of themselves online downing a pint, then “neknominates” one or two of his friends to follow suit. The rules dictate that they now have 24 hours to upload their video and nominate their choices, carrying on the trend.
However it seems the trend has gone beyond downing a pint of beer to downing large volumes of spirits and weird concoctions – some potentially fatal.
It also seems that the trend is not isolated to teenagers. Many people in their 20’s and 30’s are posting videos of themselves nominating and accepting a nomination.
I was in with Transition Year students in Salerno Secondary School in Galway last week – they are currently studying our Young Minds Online course – and we had a grown up discussion about this social media craze.
I challenged them after hearing an Alcohol advocacy group suggesting that you cannot ‘persuade teenagers’ to refrain from bowing to such peer and social media pressure. However, I disagree.
The teenagers I am working with say that having studied the underlying foundations of social media they began to think more about their online reputation and how their own digital footprint can go viral. “I’ve even changed my privacy settings,” said one student.
Having worked with 15 and 16 year olds for the past five months on online reputation, it is clear that education and empowering them with knowledge can have a positive effect.
We have various ‘social media’ problems right across the online sphere and many parents, advocates and groups continuously talk about the problems associated with social media and teens and tweens. However, very rarely do we hear about any of the solutions.
So is the problem of ‘Neknomination’ social media or personal responsibility? Is it Facebook’s responsibility to ban/prohibit such dares that can have fatal consequences or is it up to individuals to take personal responsibility for their actions? That question we frequently ask our children – “if Joe Bloggs asks you to jump off a cliff, would you?” comes to mind.
We are responsible as parents for teaching our children about personal responsibility and we are also responsible for teaching them about managing their online reputation. However, the problem is that parents are not knowledgeable enough about social media to be fore-armed and fore-warned.
Personally, I think it is about time we had an open debate on why social media and online reputation should now be a core part of the school curriculum. Social media is here to stay. So we need to start at the start and make people understand the impacts – both positive and negative of the social media revolution. And perhaps we need to educate the adults and not just the teens.
About the Author:
Joanne Sweeney-Burke is a former Journalist and PR Lecturer. She has 13 years experience in media and business communications. She is the founder and owner of Media Box and Digital Training Institute. She works on PR and media campaigns and delivers training in all aspects of media and communications. She has developed a bespoke course for second level schools called Young Minds Online, teaching teens and tweens best practice online. She holds a first class honours MA in Journalism, a Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism and Public Relations, a Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Marketing and a Degree in English, Sociology and Politics. She is currently studying a Masters in Digital Marketing and is due to graduate in Autumn 2014.
Connect with Joanne on LinkedIn
Follow Joanne on Twitter