Selfies have taken over! Taking photos of ourselves (with or without our kids) is perfectly acceptable, but some say “posting a new picture of yourself (or your kids) every day really isn’t necessary”. Here’s some of my thoughts…
#selfies: the good
Who am I?
Our kids are growing up in a selfie culture. My two-year old daughter loves to see photos of herself on my phone. She says “cheese” and poses if I hold up my phone to take a picture. Then, when Daddy comes home she wants me to show him the photo and waits for him to say “adorable/ gorgeous/ cute”. She is also obsessed with looking at herself in the mirror and making funny faces. In some ways, her behaviour looks the same as a selfie addict. My daughter is learning about who she is. At her age, she needs to be self-obsessed in order to develop a secure sense of self. She craves other’s input on who she is. She will partly define herself through her connections and relationships with others.
I think selfies are a great form of self-expression: look at me, look what I am doing, look, I am special/beautiful/kind. A selfie is a statement to the world about who I am. We like to show off the best part of ourselves on social media. Although we all know there are filters and editing that happen before we post a selfie, we like seeing the best in ourselves and others. Seeing ourselves looking the best we can and seeing how others react to our selfies makes us feel good.
This video came up in my feed this week and I have to share it. Watch this father build his daughter up by letting her look and see herself in a mirror:
#selfies: the bad
With every like, share or positive comment, we want more! Attention is addictive. Selfies have the potential to build our self-esteem in temporary and external ways – I need more likes, comments and shares from my followers to feel good. If we build our sense of self on how we think others see us, our sense of self can change so easily and isn’t rooted in solid self-awareness.
When someone posts a lot of selfies, they can be seen as full of themselves, vain and narcissistic. This can happen if selfies are mainly centred on physical appearance. Posting what is considered as too many selfies can damage relationships. Generally, your close family and friends may still tolerate you, but other people may find it harder to be in a real relationship with a selfie addict.
#selfies: the ugly
Hearing negative comments can be hard to deal with. While some people on social media will actively attack certain types of selfies, some people will just stop following you. By putting parts of yourself out there in a selfie, you open yourself up to public scrutiny and you become an “object”. People on social media do not see the ‘behind-the-scenes’ you.
I remember when my daughter was born wanting to post a million pictures a day of my perfect little person. But there were times that parenting was so hard. I didn’t share the moments of being literally covered in poo and spit up, the sleeping nights when I could not put her down, and that one time I threw myself on the door in frustration until my hubby came to rescue me (or my daughter) from another meltdown. The behind-the-scenes look at me as a mother was raw, messy and emotional. Selfie culture told me that we only want to see the clean, put-together and perfect image of me and my child. This a powerful illusion that many other parents might try to attain. I can show you that mother and child, but it’s fake.
#selfies: tips for parents
Our children are already immersed in selfie culture. We take selfies with them. They take selfies of themselves. Instead of seeing selfies as good, bad or ugly, I think it is more healthy to embrace selfies with parental involvement. Here are my tips for parents and kids when it comes to taking selfies:
Look into the mirror or the camera
Tell me what you see when you look at yourself
Strike a pose: be different, be yourself, be funny, be silly
Capture moments and make memories
Always show yourself, always be real, and always think of others