How Do You Play the Nervous Game?

Vladimir Pustovit/CC-BY 2.0

The nervous game is a game played by two people, where one person stands with their hands by their sides while the other person touches a part of their body and asks, “Are you nervous yet?” The goal of the game is to avoid admitting nervousness, even when the other person touches intimate places on the body.

This game is typically played by older children and teens. Although it is referred to as a game, there is some debate over whether or not it is actually a form of sexual harassment, as the intention of the “toucher” is to get as close to touching the other player’s genitals as possible before being stopped.

Peer pressure causes many teens to allow themselves to be touched on their genitals in order to gain higher social status among their friends who play the game. This can lead to the players experiencing feelings of shame or guilt about letting their peers touch them in such a way, usually in public.

Studies show that children who use these sexually harassing techniques against their peers in order to cause shame or embarrassment may have themselves been victims of bullying. The fact that the game is also considered a method of sexual flirting among teens has led many parents and teachers to worry about the effects of the game on teens.