How Selfies Impact our Teens (Especially Our Girls)
Teenage girls live in the selfie generation. It’s what teen girls do.
So what’s up with all these selfies? Parents can be baffled by the frequency of their daughter’s selfies. When we were teens we also loved getting our pictures taken but it wasn’t all the time. It was for special occasions.
Today, teens document their day by taking countless selfies of the most trivial situations. Why is that? Does this mean that our teenage girls are narcissistic and have inflated egos?
Before answering that question we need to see the bigger picture and look at the culture in which we live. With the rise of smartphones, most teens have a camera with them at all times. Combine this with all the social media outlets, teenage girls need to belong, and peer pressure– you have the selfie generation.
Selfies are more like a question than a statement.
When a girl posts a picture on Instagram or Snapchat good chance she’s not thinking, “I’m gorgeous and rocking this photo.”
She’s asking herself these questions.
- What will my friends think?
- Do I look good in this picture?
- Do I look hot or sexy?
- Am I beautiful?
- Do my hair and clothes look okay?
- Will he like me?
- Is my butt too big?
- Will they think this is funny?
- Will they think I’m too fat or too skinny?
And what’s the BIG question underneath all these questions?
Am I worthy of love and belonging?
And where do they get the answers to these questions? — By how many “likes” and positive comments they get after they post their selfie.
You and I know that social media can’t answer these big questions for our teenage girls . . . so this is a setup for our girls.
Because these girls are relying on the responses from other unpredictable and insecure teens to validate their self-esteem this leads to ambiguity and uncertainty, which raises anxiety.
You post a selfie and you have no assurance what will happen. Once girls post their selfies they feel vulnerable. They don’t want to be judged by their friends. Often girls feel they are in a no-win situation. They could be judged either way. They could be judged if they post a selfie or if they don’t.
Instead of feeling comforted, teen girls are left with more questions after they post their selfies.
- What if I don’t get any likes or I get fewer likes than my friends?
- What if people make fun of my picture?
- What if they post something mean?
This can be an unending cycle. Your daughter feels anxious about how she looks and how she’s liked, which keeps her posting selfies to get external validation. Trying to get validation through social media will always be shaky ground.
The truth is that selfies make girls more self-conscious about how others view them. This increased self-awareness tends to lower self-esteem and if there is a lack of positive feedback, a teenage girl’s self-esteem takes a nosedive.
What Moms Can Do
- Make your home a safe haven where your daughter can experience unconditional love and belonging. Be a consistent encourager.
- Help foster situations where your daughter strengthens her connections with friends in person. You know that good old face-to-face contact.
- Get your daughter involved with sports teams, dance groups, bands, theatres, clubs, and organizations where she can belong to a group of friends.
- Invest in her gifts and abilities. Help her master an interest or talent. Get her guitar lessons or voice lessons.
- Have social media breaks throughout the day.
- Listen. Listen. Listen. See if she will open up about the pressure she feels from social media. Help her have a bird’s eye view of social media. In other words, help her develop critical awareness.
- Nurture her spirituality. Get her involved in a youth group. Send her on a mission trip or a summer camp.