Taking selfies is considered a public health problem in new study

Taking selfies is considered a public health problem in new study

The taking of selfies is now considered legitimately dangerous.

A review by the University of New South Wales concluded that taking selfies could actually pose a “public health problem.”

Referencing data from multiple peer-reviewed studies in both the U.S. and Australia since 2011, the review was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research in September of this year.

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Selfie-related deaths at aquatic locations stood out as the most concerning incidents — including photo-taking at scenic and photogenic areas.

The general use of smartphones and apps is dangerous, the research pointed out, but four of the five peer-reviewed studies identified falls from heights due to selfie-taking as the most common cause of injury and death.

The most common cause of selfie-related deaths was falling from heights, according to a review of past studies. (iStock)

Drowning was identified as the second most common cause of death.

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Lead study author Sam Cornell, a research officer at the Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, said he was specifically interested in environmental and aquatic-related selfie injuries and deaths. 

“I wasn’t looking at people getting injured from taking selfies on man-made structures or train lines, for instance,” he told Fox News Digital via email. 

Girl selfie on wall

The lead study author said he was “surprised” that young females “were implicated the most” in terms of being victims of selfie deaths. The mean age of reported victims was 22 years old — they were mostly female tourists. (iStock)

The mean age of reported victims was 22 years old — and they were mostly female tourists.

“I was surprised that when I drilled down in this way, young females were implicated the most,” Cornell noted.

The selfie danger risks differ by country, the researcher said.

“In the U.S. and Australia, people are getting injured or dying while alone — normally as a result of falling from a cliff.”

“In India, lots of people die in bodies of water, often in groups,” Cornell said. 

“In the U.S. and Australia, people are getting injured or dying while alone — normally as a result of falling from a cliff.”

Among the recent selfie-related accidents was a Brazilian woman, Fernanda Morella, 33, who fell to her death at Kangaroo Point cliffs while celebrating her birthday in Brisbane, Australia, in 2021, according to news.co.au.

womans take selfie in times square

A tourist takes a selfie in Times Square in New York City. Risk reduction methods have included “no selfie zones,” physical barriers, signage and information about dangerous zones provided on social media.  (iStock)

British tourist Madalyn Davis was 21 years old when she fell from a cliff at Diamond Bay Reserve, Sydney, and died in 2020.

The study concluded that the public health problem should require a “public health risk communication response.”

“To date, little attention has been paid to averting selfie-related incidents through behavior change methodologies or direct messaging to users, including through social media apps,” the authors concluded.

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Risk reduction methods have included “no selfie zones,” physical barriers, signage and information about dangerous zones provided on social media.

The research revealed, however, that these risk mitigation efforts haven’t been enough to prevent accidents.

woman takes photo in vineyard

The study highlights the “unhealthy” aspects of social media pressures, said one doctor. (iStock)

“It may be prudent to also engage in direct safety messaging to social media users,” the study suggested.

Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel, of NYU Langone, was not involved in the study review. But he agreed that selfie-related accidents constitute a public health crisis.

“This involves an emotional cost as well, and is an unhealthy extension of our celebrity culture and social media pressures.”

The issue doesn’t just lie in physical injury, he said via email to Fox News Digital; it also introduces the “unhealthy psychological aspects of taking a pause from actually living life to take a freeze-frame of it.” 

Siegel added, “This involves an emotional cost as well, and is an unhealthy extension of our celebrity culture and social media pressures.”

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As this problem doesn’t seem to be decreasing, Cornell said, selfie-related injuries or deaths are no laughing matter.

“People joke about it, but I don’t think you should lose your life because of a silly youthful mistake,” he told Fox News Digital. 

“We owe it to young people to mitigate this problem by communicating the risks. It is a public health concern.”

“We owe it to young people to mitigate this problem by communicating the risks,” Cornell said. “It is a public health concern.”

To prevent dangerous incidents, Cornell stressed the need for personal responsibility and awareness of one’s surroundings.

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One key limitation of these studies, he said, is that it’s “extremely difficult” to find coroner-reported data on this issue. 

“Death by selfie isn’t written by the coroner — but maybe it should be,” said Cornell.

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