IN a digital society obsessed with capturing photographic evidence of every aspect of life, Russell Moss can take up to 50 selfies a day.

Whether it be a quick snap with friends and work colleagues or a brazen shot in the supermarket aisle, the 21-year-old barely goes anywhere without getting a picture on his iPhone.

“My average is probably around 20 in a day but I tend to take more if I’m out and about,” said the trainee mechanic, from Stretford in Greater Manchester.

“I have even taken the odd selfie in the garage when my boss is not around,” he confessed.

Russell is one of many millions of Britons who engage with the selfie craze which has vastly become the social norm in our modern culture.

It is believed over one million images are uploaded to social media platforms and around 16.5 million people use photo app Snapchat on a daily basis.

Celebrities have undoubtedly set the trend with the famous Oscar 2014 selfie the most retweeted tweet ever while Kim Kardashian released a book entitled ‘Selfish’ earlier this year which catalogues her favourite selfies including some previously unseen.

Even politicians jumped on the band wagon during what was regarded as the first ‘selfie’ general election campaign with the most prominent being Ed Miliband’s pose with a group of screaming ladies in Knutsford.

Russell said: “I don’t know how it took off but almost everyone seems to take selfies.

“It has grown and grown with the rise of the selfie stick now adding to the experience and it’s great to see because I love selfies.

“When I see celebrities getting involved on Twitter too, it inspires me to keep taking more so I can improve my technique and build up a collection.”

But excessive selfie-taking can have severe and unexpected consequences on a person’s health, one mental health nurse has warned.

Claire Terry, from the Greater Manchester West NHS Foundation Trust, believes such activity can have a discerning impact on confidence and personality – particularly in young people.

“Taking endless selfies and repeating the process to get the right angle or the perfect picture amounts to obsessive behaviour,” the 31-year-old said.

“It creates self-consciousness and a false sense of confidence that could trigger numerous negative effects which can be dangerous, especially for teenagers who are going through the transition into adulthood.

“There are also close links to conditions such as depression, low self-esteem and narcissism, which is a personality disorder which affects those who are considered vain and egotistical.

“So what may be seen as an innocuous habit has the potential to develop into something sinister.”

TIMELINE: A brief history of the selfie from 2003 to present day

In some instances, it can become much more serious.

Last year, 19-year-old Danny Bowman went to drastic lengths – including losing two stone and dropping out of school – to spend 10 hours a day attempting to take the “right” selfie before attempting to kill himself when failing to do so.

He developed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and later Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), which has an extremely high suicidal rate.

Claire, however, feels such cases are not uncommon and there should be greater awareness of the health risks associated with extreme selfie-taking.

“I read about that and, unfortunately, it is not an isolated example and the long-term psychological effects can be huge,” she explained.

“Addictions can manifest faster than perhaps we realise and, undoubtedly, an addiction to taking selfies is widely recognised as a mental illness because of its prevalence nowadays.

“Taking a large number of selfies on a regular basis with a flash camera can be a mental health hazard regardless of how minor it may be.

“To avoid this, I think there needs to be better education from a young age in schools and public campaigns – not with the intention to scaremonger but to illustrate what can happen if it goes too far and how quickly it can get to that stage.”

THINGLINK: Click on the tags on the image below for recent selfie stories which have appeared in the media

Russell, meanwhile, has never considered the consequences when snapping himself and others with his smartphone in relation to his mental state.

And although he wouldn’t class himself as a selfie addict, the former engineering student was surprised to learn how the habitual practice of selfies can escalate into a life-changing predicament.

He admitted: “I had no idea that taking any amount of selfies could drive someone to commit suicide.

“I can sometimes spend an hour a day taking selfies but not once have I been concerned about my health.

“Perhaps it’s something to be conscious about in future but if people have more self-control and discipline then the root of the issue can be nipped in the bud.”

It may be unclear what can be guaranteed as a safe selfie limit compared to the factors which encourage incessant selfie-taking such as impulsivity and self-objectification.

But with over one trillion clicks of the shutter button on cameras last year alone, recognising the general health risks and precautionary measures is highly recommended to ensure the art of selfieing remains a pleasurable and harmless experience.

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