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The Price of the Perfect Selfie: Why Parents and Organizations Are Cracking Down on Photo-Taking

There’s no doubt we live in a digital world. Children today grow up holding cell phones, tablets, computers, and just about every other electronic gadget. Considering that nearly 395 iPhones are sold each and every minute, it’s not surprising that people of all ages are being constantly bombarded with technology. While they may think it’s fun to scroll through Facebook and don’t see any harm in posting a silly photo on Instagram, there are a lot of risks and responsibilities involved. Of course, internet safety is a must, especially for kids. But sometimes, the pressure to post interesting content on social media might make them take calculated risks in the real world without ever realizing they could hurt themselves in the process.
Social media’s popularity doesn’t look like it’s going to stop anytime soon. And of course, the ubiquitous selfie likely isn’t going anywhere. There are now more than 3 million Instagram posts with the hashtag #brows that currently exist on the platform, allowing professional makeup artists and amateur enthusiasts to share their look of the day. With the growing prevalence of these platforms comes an undeniable pressure to look like the models and influencers they see on their screens. But that may not be the only danger that young social media users face.
In fact, it might be the locations in which they choose to snap their selfies in the first place. While Forbes data indicated that 30% of people smile more than 20 times per day, selfie-takers might not be smiling long when they attempt an outlandish photo op and it goes horribly wrong.
Officials in particularly scenic spots have seen a significant uptick in selfie-related safety incidents. Vancouver’s North Shore Rescue experienced a 30% increase in the last three years, which they believe is due to social media stunts. They say they’ve saved more than a dozen people who attempted dangerous cliff jumps in the last year. While it’s not totally clear whether those individuals were doing it all for the ‘gram, the team feels it’s likely.
And if it is, it’s not an isolated incident. New York State is currently adding extra safety measures in the Catskill Mountains to ensure that visitors don’t take a fatal trip to the area’s picturesque falls. Four deaths have occurred there in recent years after visitors got too close to the cliff’s edge in order to take a photo. Park officials also attribute the massive uptick in visitors to social media platforms and the incessant need to post the perfect shot. They’ve already added a staircase and fencing to keep visitors safe, but two deaths actually occurred after those precautions were taken — thus highlighting the need for further action. Now, visitors are not allowed within six feet of the cliff’s edge and rangers have the authority to remove anyone who exhibits risky photo-taking behavior.
Although the U.S. experienced 161,374 preventable deaths and 44.5 million preventable injuries total in 2016, ours isn’t the only nation where these accidents occur. Similarly tragic incidents have occurred in Canada and Turkey.
Ultimately, one auto insurer indicates that it’s often up to parents to discourage this kind of behavior from a young age — particularly for dangerous phone usage while driving. Liberty Mutual Insurance suggests that teen drivers are likely to adopt the same bad parents their parents of guilty of. Since 49% of parents admitted to talking on the phone while driving and nearly the same percentage of parents and teens said they actually took selfies while behind the wheel, it stands to reason that it could be a case of “monkey see, monkey do.”
Of course, it’s not only teens who are at risk for bad selfie decisions. One lapse in judgment could prove fatal, whether you’re on the road or hiking in the hills. But by demonstrating good decision-making and maintaining an ongoing discussion about selfie safety, parents may be able to protect themselves and their kids.

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