The Selfie Generation
It seems that everyone values physical appearance above all else these days, including children. Children who once played outside and in dirt are now dressing up, with full hair and make-up, to take photos of themselves, posing, and posting on social media for the world’s viewing pleasure. A recent survey from Luster Premium White, a teeth whitening brand based in Boston, calculated that the average young person could take up to about 25,700 selfies in his or her lifetime, with over 50% admitting to touching them up first, either by cropping, fixing red eye or editing a blemish.
Is the world obsessed with the ‘selfie’? Tweens, aged between 8 and 14 years old, are posting selfies on apps such as Instagram, eagerly waiting for people to ‘like’ them. Them or their faces? Tweens are taking these selfies mostly in their bedrooms or in dance poses and including captions like, ‘single’, or ‘taken’. Not only that, but comments include things like, ‘you’re so hot!!’ and ‘txt me pls!’ Should a relationship status and looks be the central most important aspect of a teenager’s life?
Once an iOS- only app, Instagram now has over 400 million monthly active users, as of the end of 2015, and is literally growing by the millions each year. Not only is this a platform for sharing our own self-importance through the ‘selfie’, but it is also used to edit and enhance our self-image – smooth out skin, erase dark eye circles, and to choose the perfect lighting. Selfies and the apps which promote them, are aiding in the sexualisation of young people; and that’s not to say that everyone uses these apps for this reason. However that’s not to say it’s not.
Allowing primary and secondary aged student’s camera phones is providing them with the very tool they need to participate in this growing trend. Experts are now finding through new clinical studies, that the selfie phenomenon, through the introduction of hand-held technology and the ability to upload an image in a matter of seconds, is intensifying people’s narcissistic personality traits. What starts with an innocent ‘selfie’ habit could be an indication that these self-obsessed smartphone users are really feeling bad inside – a perpetually needy, anxious, depressed, and narcissistic person who constantly requires attention of others to fill-in an emotional hole. Is this what we want for our young people?
Being outside, hanging out with friends, learning about a person and what’s on the inside, rather than their physical appearance – that’s what should be focused on. Selfies are being classified as doing more negative than positive, with so much information broadcasting the correlation between selfies and potential mental disorders. If we don’t take a step back and realise what’s really important, for ourselves and for today’s children, we will quickly become a generation that relies on attention-seeking social dependence with no compassion, understanding or identity of any kind.