Parents need to take a stand against extreme drinking challenges on social media sites and help their children resist peer pressure, according to charity Drinkaware.
The charity, set up to promote responsible drinking, has said that parents need to “take a tough line” to help teenagers resist the online pressure to participate in “potentially fatal games.”
It comes following the deaths of three young people who died after drinking in a NekNominate challenge.
The online craze encourages a participant to share a video of themselves downing a drink, and then nominating someone else to do the same.
The charity’s advice for parents comes as new research, conducted by Ipsos MORI, confirmed the impact of peer pressure on children and the likelihood of its encouraging them to drink.
Research showed that the chances of a child having had an alcoholic drink correlates directly with their friends’ drinking habits, and that children are more than twice as likely to have had an alcoholic drink if they have felt encouraged to do so.
The research also revealed that over a third of 10-17 year olds who use social networking sites have reported seeing images of their friends drunk, leading to concerns that younger children could feel pressure to get involved.
Elaine Hindal, chief executive at alcohol education charity Drinkaware, said: “I’m sure we can all remember feeling invincible as a child and keen not be left out of the crowd, but as parents, we know the real danger of a trend which encourages young people to take unnecessary risks and to put pressure on their friends to do the same.
“Parents have more influence than they think. We want to protect our children from the pressure to drink alcohol underage and can play a vital role in doing so by giving them the confidence to say no. It’s never too early to talk to your children about the risks of drinking underage and to remind them that if they choose not to drink they will not be alone.
“Young people should also be reminded that the behaviour of some older teens taking part in social media drinking games is not something to be copied – it can have serious implications. We believe it’s better to have the “alcohol chat” in the living room than in A&E.”
Dr Sarah Jarvis, medical adviser to alcohol education charity Drinkaware, added: “Young people often say they feel peer pressure to drink to fit in, but competitions to drink excessively in a short space of time can be dangerous and this should not come as a surprise.
“Quite apart from the risk of accident or injury as a result of drinking to excess, there is another aspect to these online drinking games which is the “cybershame” some young people may experience. Drinkaware research shows nearly half (47%) of 18-24 year olds admitted un-tagging drunk photos of themselves that they didn’t want others to see. However there is still a chance that these photos may be seen by universities and prospective employers.
“So while it may seem like a lot of fun at the time, the potential for negative consequences are no laughing matter.”
For more information on the charity click here.