“Selfies” have become a mind-boggling social media phenomenon. Approximately 95% of young adults admit to having taken at least one selfie in their lifetime; researchers estimate that even one selfie per day would eventually add up to over 25,700 pictures in a lifetime. Selfies are fun for everyone. There’s no better way to show off a new outfit, hairstyle, or a great vacation memory. However, this fun should be kept in check.
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In 2014 alone, there were 49 deaths directly linked to taking a selfie. Every year these shocking tragedies continue. Statistics show that most of these selfie-related deaths have occurred in India, Pakistan, and the United States with about 75% of the victims being male under 24 years of age.
Something as small and quick as taking a picture can place teens in danger of freak accidents and dangerous circumstances. Falls, vehicle accidents, drownings, and even animal attacks have all been linked to fateful selfies. A split second of misplaced attention can result in a life-changing accident.
How to Take Safer Selfies
Although there is nothing inherently wrong with taking a quick pic to update your social media account, here are some rules to keep in mind and to discuss regularly with your children and teens to take safe selfies:
No Selfies in the Car
Although we know not to talk or text while driving, we should also add selfies to this banned list. Even if the car is not currently moving, misplaced attention can easily result in a car crash. Unless the car is safely parked, save the selfies for later.
Stop, Look, and Listen
Something as simple as being aware of your surroundings is key in staying safe. This is tricky for teens. Everyone loves being able to share “dare-devil” selfies on their social media feeds. However, staging risky photos on cliffs and other hazardous places is never worth the picture. Before they take a selfie help your teen learn to practice and encourage your child to always take a quick observation check of their surroundings. Look around closely for possible risks and dangers.
Many selfies have proved deadly through indirect methods. Bullying, sexual harassment, and other negative issues have risen over the years in response to risque or private selfies being shared publicly. A picture that is more personal in nature should never be shared with the whole world. Help your teen learn the value of keeping their personal lives private and out of the hands of cyber-bullies and other internet predators.
In 2014, 19-year-old Danny Bowman was nearly driven to suicide due to his “selfie addiction.” Desperate for perfection and good looks, he obsessed over his personal image. His body dysmorphic disorder was directly fueled by his selfie obsession. In his own words, he explained, “‘I was constantly in search of taking the perfect selfie and when I realized I couldn’t I wanted to die.” Although he received the help he needed for his recovery, many teens become trapped in the vicious cycle of “taking the perfect selfie.” Help your teen learn to value themselves for who they are, not what they look like. Be on constant guard for signs that they are struggling with their image and self-esteem.
Following the Rules
All amusement parks rides and attractions usually come with basic warnings to keep smartphones and other valuables put away during the ride. This isn’t just to these items from getting lost or broken. Roller coaster accidents and other recreational deaths have been tied back to a selfie taken at the wrong time during a ride. Even using a tool such as a “selfie stick” isn’t enough to keep the dangers away. Encourage your teen to take all rules seriously, even if they sound far-fetched or unnecessary.
Selfies are not dangerous in and of themselves. When taken safely, these pictures are a great way for teens to show off aspects of themselves and their life that they take pride in. However, before the smartphone comes out, help your child or teen go through a basic safety check-list. If and when you need it, Netsanity comes with the ability to disable the camera on iOS devices
Also published on Medium.