Selfies are a way of life—especially for student travelers who are seeing new sights and experiencing new ways of life. Photos while traveling are great, but sometimes it’s just not OK to take a selfie.
Before you travel with your students, discuss situations when taking a selfie is either disrespectful or unsafe.
At memorials honoring the dead.
Memorials honor those who suffered and are places where people—often related to the victims—go to pay their respects. This includes places where people died, such as historic battlefields, the 9/11 Memorial Museum and Auschwitz. These locations are for thoughtful reflection. They are not for the reflection of student faces in phone screens.
With locals your students don’t know.
Selfies with a local your students have worked with for an educational experience? Sure. Maybe. They’ve formed that relationship. Students should not, however, take selfies with locals they haven’t met or had an opportunity to form a personal connection with. Those selfies could be construed as mocking them or their way of life.
Unless your students are far away from the animal and have no chance of coming in contact with it or endangering it in any way—like at a zoo—selfies with animals are a no-go.
First of all, animals are animals, and student safety is at risk. Second, the animal’s safety is at risk. There are too many stories of tourists wounding or killing an animal in an attempt to take a selfie. Animals deserve respect.
On the move.
Walking and texting isn’t safe. Walking and snapping a selfie isn’t safe, either. Not only does it pose a risk for your student self-ographer, but for anyone around them, too.
On the edge.
Snapping shots of beautiful views is a must for travel. So is paying attention to the edge of a mountain or cliff. Close-to-the-edge selfies are dangerous. It’s not just cliffs, either. Balcony railings are not places for selfies.
When something bad is happening.
Citizen journalists are a thing these days—but that doesn’t mean citizen journalists have to be a thing on student trips. Student safety is a priority. If something dangerous is happening, make it clear that your students need to put away their phones and find a safe place. No selfies after the fact, either. Students might be safe, but that doesn’t mean others haven’t been harmed.
Courtesy of SYTA.