Fears over ‘dangerous’ social media game reaching region

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Local authorities are concerned that if a popular but dangerous social media craze reaches North Otago, it could harm young people in the area.

The international ‘neknominate’ online drinking game, which has not appeared to have reached North Otago, has come under fire in recent weeks for being dangerous and irresponsible.

The game involves participants sculling alcohol whilst being filmed, then putting the video online and nominating others to do the same within 24 hours.

Oamaru Hospital chief executive Robert Gonzales said he had talked to a number of the Emergency Department staff and none of them had recalled treating any cases resulting from ‘neknominate’ over the last few weeks.

“I hope it doesn’t get into our youth culture in Oamaru,” he said.

Oamaru Police Sergeant Craig Sew Hoy said nothing had been brought to Oamaru Police attention as a result of the game, but if it was being played, police would only find out about it when something went wrong.

“The police view is well-known around alcohol harm – that is to drink responsibly in a controlled environment.”

The game goes right against that view and police would prefer people to drink sensibly, he said.

Waitaki District Council community safety and development facilitator Helen Algar said if the craze was used for good like in South Africa – where it had been used to perform random acts of kindness – then it had the potential to be great.

“From what I have seen when it comes to the drinking, people are continually trying to outdo each other and there is clearly escalation from sculling a glass of beer to sculling a pint of mixed spirits,” she said.

“At the end of the day, any promotion or instigation of binge drinking behaviour is irresponsible and detrimental to individuals and society.”

Waitaki Safer Community Trust co-ordinator Derek Beveridge said the problem was caused by the drinking aspect, which should not be encouraged.

“The problem comes with the drinking aspect of ‘neknominate’ and the chances are it will end up with people trying to drink more than their nominator and end up sculling bottles of spirits,” he said.

“Social networking has the ability to do great things if used responsibly.”

By RUBY HARFIELD