Fact: In 2019, 5 people died in the United States in the month of May from taking a selfie.
One study reported that 259 people around the world have died while taking selfies.
Outside Magazine writer, Kathryn Miles talked to NPR about regulations and pledges parks are putting into place to protect their visitors from taking risky selfies that can ultimately end in death after the number of deaths in certain areas began to rise.
An example of a “dangerous selfies” people are taking are photos with wild bears in the background. Yes- wild BEARS. People are dying trying to get that perfect post on social media and want to get as many likes as possible. Miles also said that, “in the past few weeks, what we’ve seen repeatedly, is visitors to the Grand Canyon at the South Rim wanting to get that sort of lovely panoramic shot of themselves at the Grand Canyon and stepping back to kind of situate themselves, not realizing how close they are to the edge and then literally falling to their deaths.” All in order to get more clicks, likes, and retweets.
Research into this topic has found two types of people. First, the innocent, naïve people trying to get a fun, attention grabbing photo to share on social media and not realizing how dangerous the situation actually is. And second, the people seeking out danger on purpose for social media fame. Either way, it is ending in senseless deaths that can be avoided.
Miles told NPR that The U.S. Forest Service has warned against bear selfies and Yellowstone has asked park visitors to take a safe selfie pledge. There are other steps being taken to try to keep people safe. For example, Russia, the country, for instance, has published a safe selfie brochure that it hands out to people there. Wisconsin state parks have tried a really interesting initiative where they’ve built selfie stands in the parks in safe places with good views. The Delaware DMV has created safe selfie zones. And then the National Park Service earlier this month tried a safe selfie day to try to get people engaged in the movement.
Project B3 wants you to add this topic to your discussion list! As parents and caregivers we might think (as full-grown adults) that this is common-sense: don’t put yourself in danger for a photograph. But, our teens who have grown up with a smartphone in their hands and whose brains are not yet fully formed NEED to be told NOT to do these things. A lot of these stories are just tourists going over a barrier for a better shot. Lots of them are teenagers. Summer is a great time for vacation and exploration. Keep your preteens and teens safe with a quick convo about safety and selfies!