Selfies and Self Esteem

Close up shot of Caucasian little girl wrinkling nose as she looks at her image in a cell phone.

We live in a generation of selfies. With the intense levels of smart phones that can transmit photos instantly there have been increasing statistics of individuals who are preoccupied about how they look when they take their own picture on their cell phone. Sometimes this can become habitual and have significant impact on one’s own self-image and cause a number of struggles that may be very unhealthy.

Rachel Ehmke who writes for the Child Mind Institute recently published an article about this phenomenon. Here is a story summary:

The average woman between 16 and 25 years old spends over five hours a week taking (and improving!) selfies. While selfies can be silly and lighthearted, there’s a darker side. With multiple attempts, makeup, retouching and filters, it’s become a competition for the perfect image. And the chances of feeling like you don’t measure up are very high. This makes experts worry about kids’ self-esteem.

Although social media probably isn’t causing full-blown mental health disorders, if a kid was already struggling, social media can make it worse. It can make kids who are depressed or anxious think less of themselves and spend more time comparing themselves to others.

The problem of selfies has been the subject of research and surveys. There is even a phrase to describe people who are fixated on so-called flaws in their appearance because of selfies. It’s “selfie dysmorphia.” This is similar to a diagnosis called body dysmorphic disorder, which is a mental health disorder related to OCD.

To help your child be more aware of how they use social media, try discussing how it makes them feel. Encourage them to think about how they’re feeling before they pick up their phone and to put it down if they start to feel bad.

Helping your child build their self-esteem is important. Compliment your daughter on how she looks, but also on the things she does and how hard she works. When she can see how her skills grow with time and effort, she’ll feel proud of herself. It will help her learn to look at who she is, and not fixate on how she looks.

A little girl takes a picture of herself on her phone liking what she sees.

The full article can be read at the following link. There are plenty of influencers in our children’s lives that can impact how they feel about themselves. Many of them can be negative including the use of social media and the use of selfies. Often parents and caregivers are caught unaware of how these types of issues are active in the lives of our children. I think it is important to understand all that we can do to counteract this effect by being proactive, which is the point of this article. I hope you will find it helpful.

Gerry Vassar


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