Kids Safety 101

A Serious Look at Selfie Safety

Everyone has taken a selfie. They’re so commonplace that we see people snapping them all the time, and we don’t even blink an eye. Remember back when there were no front-facing cameras yet? People were still figuring out ways to twist and finagle their arms and selfie sticks to get the perfect shot.

But as silly as it may sound, selfie safety is something worth discussing with your children this summer.

Selfies Are Dangerous

Hundreds of people have died taking selfies in dangerous locations. Taking a selfie is perfectly harmless when you’re in safe circumstances, but people run into trouble when they’re looking for likes.

Influencer culture means that the more attention-grabbing your photos, the more likes you’re going to get. For kids, “likes” translate into social clout (and sometimes actual sponsorships). That’s why many influencers have passed away while trying to take a dangerous selfie. Catching a good angle on the side of a cliff excites followers more than a poolside “hot dogs or legs” pic.

Examples of Selfie Deaths

Anyone can put themselves in a dangerous situation trying to get a selfie. Selfie death has happened to far too many people for it to be a problem parents can brush over. It can happen to anyone.

A Wikipedia list of selfie deaths gives brutal details of how some of these circumstances occur:

United States, 2011 – Three teenagers (two sisters and a friend) were killed by a train while posing for a selfie, which is just visible in the final picture they posted to Facebook along with the caption “Standing right by a train ahaha this is awesome!!

United States, 2014 – A 29-year-old amateur pilot allegedly took selfies using a GoPro camera before his plane crashed, killing himself and the passenger on board.

Portugal, 2014 – A Polish couple fell to their death off a cliff in Portugal after crossing a safety barrier to take a selfie with their children. Their two children who were present at the scene survived.

Russia, 2015 – Two young men died in the Ural Mountains after they pulled the pin from a live hand grenade to take a selfie. The phone with the picture remained as evidence of the circumstance of their deaths.

United States, 2018 – A Californian woman fell to her death while taking selfies on the edge of a 200-foot cliff over Lake Superior at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Turkey, 2020 – A 31-year-old resident from Kazakhstan fell from a 115-foot-high cliff trying to take a selfie with a waterfall in the picture to celebrate the lifting of the COVID-19 lockdown of the city. Duden Park in Antalya, Turkey is a known popular destination for tourists.

Teaching Your Kids Selfie Safety

Providing awareness to your children that this sort of thing is possible is the most important step. You want to make sure that in the future, when your kids are on vacation or just hanging with friends, that no one risks their life for a selfie.

Medical City Healthcare provides tips for how to stay safe when taking selfies. Explain to your children how to:

  • Stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times; people have been mugged (and worse) taking selfies
  • Respect barriers and railings and stay away from cliff edges and other dangerous drop-offs; you can get the same shot 10 feet further back
  • Heed posted signs and safety warnings
  • If something is dangerous before taking a selfie, it’s even more dangerous during a selfie
    • Beware of climbing on objects even if they’re not moving (unlike the Romanian teen who was electrocuted on top of a stationary train)
    • Stay away from wild or dangerous animals (bears, jaguars, hippos, walruses and bulls have all been involved in selfie-related accidents and deaths)
    • Guns, grenades, airplanes, water; need we say more?

The best advice? Ask a buddy to snap the photo for you. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it’s definitely not worth even one life.

Katy Holloway