Social media is 'normalising' drunken behaviour

  • Deborah Condon

The increasing popularity of social media, such as video sharing and publishing photos online, is impacting on young people's attitudes to alcohol, and in some cases, glorifying drunken behaviour, it has been claimed.

According to Fionnuala Sheehan of information portal, drinkaware.ie, the growing popularity of social networking, video sharing and publishing photos online ‘means young people consider it normal to document their nights out and use social media to let their friends know what they're up to'.

"Unfortunately, in some cases, this has led to a normalisation of drunken behaviour. Some students find it amusing to post videos or photographs online of their own or others' binge drinking, for example. Others use social media outlets to brag about the amounts they are drinking on nights out. There is almost a sense of competition around who can have the most shocking stories or photographs, or the most amusing videos," Ms Sheehan pointed out.

She said that these trends are of concern because the more people are exposed to images of excessive drinking, the more normal this behaviour appears.

"If you are in your late teens or early 20s, and your perception is that all your peers drink to excess and engage in anti-social behaviour, you may view this as acceptable, if not essential to fitting in," Ms Sheehan noted.

She made her comments at the launch of the 2010/2011 DARE2BDRINKAWARE.ie competition.

Now in its fourth year, this is a film and multimedia competition open to third-level students nationwide. It is sponsored by drinkaware.ie and is organised by the Digital Hub Development Agency (DHDA).

This year, the competition has a new multimedia category, which means students can submit not only short films, but also multimedia projects such as websites, interactive CD-Roms, gaming projects or mobile phone apps. All entries must challenge the relationship between the Irish culture and drinking. They must be produced entirely by third-level students over the age of 18 and must be made specifically for DARE2BDRINKAWARE.ie.

Winning entries will be chosen for their creativity, artistic and technical quality, and for the insight they offer into students' attitudes to alcohol. A total prize fund of €5,000 is up for grabs, and the competition will culminate in a screening and awards ceremony in April 2011.

Commenting at the launch of the competition, John Hurley, director of learning with The Digital Hub, said this marked a chance for students with an interest in film and multimedia to start building links within those industries and establishing a name for themselves.

"We are delighted to introduce a multimedia category this year because it gives students the chance to use digital media tools in creative ways to challenge prevailing attitudes about drinking. Rather than glorifying drunkenness through mobile media tools and social networking sites, for example, they could look at how such sites and tools could be used to encourage responsible drinking," he said.

This year's judging panel includes RTE and Lyric FM presenter, John Kelly, and Alicia McGivern, head of education at the Irish Film Institute.

The deadline for receipt of proposals is Thursday, November 11. Teams that have submitted successful proposals will then have until March 18, 2011, to produce and submit their short films or multimedia projects.

Further information and full guidelines for the competition are available at www.DARE2BDRINKAWARE.ie.


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