Health experts have criticised the online drinking game Nek-nominate, saying young teenagers are at risk of peer pressure to take part.
The craze, which has been implicated in several deaths, involves people filming themselves downing alcohol, nominating someone to continue the game, and posting the video on Facebook.
The Neknominate Facebook page, which has more than 8,000 “likes”, has the headline “it’s not a crime to get drunk”.
The industry-funded charity Drinkaware is calling on parents to take a tough stance against the game amid fears the trend could spread to young teenagers.
Research suggests that children are more than twice as likely to have an alcoholic drink if they have felt encouraged to do so.
More than a third (35 per cent) of 10 to 17-year-olds who use social networking sites have seen photos of their friends drunk.
Elaine Hindal, chief executive of Drinkaware, said: “I’m sure we can all remember feeling invincible as a child and keen not to 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 under age 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 under age 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, who advises the charity, said: “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 per cent) of 18 to 24-year-olds admitted ‘untagging’ 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.”
It emerged last week that police were planning to speak to the person who “NekNominated” a man who died after taking part in the drinking challenge.
Isaac Richardson collapsed after drinking a cocktail involving a “large amount” of alcoholic drinks at the hostel where he worked in Woolwich, south-east London, on February 8, an inquest heard at Southwark Coroner’s Court heard.
The 20-year-old was reported to be the first British victim of the NekNominate game, which involves participants filming themselves downing alcohol, nominating someone to continue the game, and posting the video on Facebook.