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Dangerous teen selfie trends

Mary Fetzer is a freelance writer and marketing consultant with a marketing degree from Penn State University and 15 years of international business experience. Mary specializes in writing about parenting, children, pregnancy, college, h...

Are these fads putting your teen at risk?

From shocking nudity to cellophane-taped faces, selfie trends are putting teens and tweens at risk.

If you're not currently following your teen on social media, it's time you started. Jump on to his Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages. Unexpectedly sit down with her and check out the photo gallery on her phone. And be on the lookout for these:

#Neknomination selfies

Who can come up with the most unique method for consuming alcohol? Neknomination is a selfie drinking game (as if teens needed another reason to drink illegally). Players photograph themselves creatively consuming alcohol, and then they nominate friends to attempt to outdo them. The prize? Social media fame… or a trip to the emergency room.

Examples include stripping in a supermarket and having a drink, consuming alcohol from a toilet and chugging cocktails flavored with dead mice, dog food and even engine oil. Sadly, at least five deaths have been associated with Neknomination, according to a CNN report.

#BehindTheWheel selfies

#NotTooSmart teens are self-involved enough to think that we want to see photos of everything they do during the course of the day, including driving. We have traffic rules about texting and talking on the phone while driving, but it appears that lawmakers should get specific about taking selfies "behind the wheel."

Since the trend kicked off in 2010, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds have blown up with driving selfies that are accompanied by brilliant captions such as #LuckyWeDidntCrash, #LookMaNoHands and #IHopeIDontCrash. Last winter, Toyota stepped in with an Instagram response campaign that read #DontShootAndDrive. Sadly, the common sense message has fallen on deaf ears.

#Riccing selfies

Christina Ricci is an adorable little actress, but lately she's become more popular for her off-screen antics. Ricci tweeted a photo of herself in a front-loading washing machine and captioned it, "Being small does have its benefits however. Look out for my new photo series, 'I Can Fit In That!'."

Now countless others are doing their best to emulate Ricci. The award (whatever that may be) apparently goes to the selfie-taker who can squeeze herself into the smallest possible space.

#CellophaneTape selfies

The burning question is, why? Why would anyone intentionally wrap his or her face in packaging tape — sometimes with remote controls or even vegetables attached for decoration? Trends like these start as fun but then grow dangerous as teens try to outdo one another.

To achieve the grotesque cellophane selfie, one must wrap the face with significant force. That can't feel good coming off… We anxiously await the release of hospital reports that result from damaged skin, eyes and mouths from this silly and unnecessary trend.

#Train selfies

What the heck? Kids are trying to get selfies standing as close as possible to moving trains and subways. There are no apparent benefits to this behavior, but even a fool can identify the serious danger involved.

One aloof teen named Jared Michael, armed with earphones and a cell phone, filmed himself standing so close to a fast-moving train that the conductor kicked him in the head! Epic? Not exactly... but Jared's YouTube video has gotten more than 34 million hits.

#Xrated selfies

We've all read the stories about teens sharing way too much on social media. The consequences of doing so are tremendously far-reaching and have resulted in bullying, sexual harassment, assault and even suicide.

The age at which young people begin exposing themselves on camera continues to drop, but adults are not missing out on the action either. According to The PicMonkey Blog, 26 percent of parents with children under 18 have taken X-rated photos. In fact, they are actually more likely than the overall population to do so!

#Perfect selfies

The bodily harm a teen can incur from these dangerous selfies is concerning, but mental health experts worry that the psychological effects are just as damaging.

Nineteen-year-old Danny Bowman tried to commit suicide because he was unable to take the perfect selfie. Bowman reportedly became so obsessed with his mission that he spent 10 hours a day taking as many as 200 photos of himself.

Bowman thought that a flawless selfie (one that resembled idol Leonardo DiCaprio) would attract girls. But the teen, who is now being treated for a technology addiction, OCD and body dysmorphic disorder, lost sight of his ultimate goal. He dropped out of school at age 16, became a prisoner in his own home and ultimately tried to kill himself by taking an overdose.

Bowman told the UK's Sunday Mirror, "I was constantly in search of taking the perfect selfie and when I realized I couldn't I wanted to die. I lost my friends, my education, my health and almost my life."

More on teens and tweens

How to stalk your teen online
Backchat: The latest messaging craze for teens
What parents should know about Snapchat

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