Michael Gove has done it recently, As has David Camreron and Barack Obama...(courting controversy in its wake too)...we're talking 'Selfies' and a staggering 91% of teens are doing it.
Along with the growing trend, there are accompanying Apps which play up to our insecurities and perpetuate the concept that we need to project the perfect image to the world. The Apps that are most worrying are 'Skinnee pix' and Snapchat.
Skinnee pix is the most worrying app in terms of young people as it’s designed to shed up to 15 lbs off your image. Justifying the app, the makers claim that photos add an average of 15 lbs to the average person and they are simply just taking away what photos add. However, it's still encouraging teens to see and be curious about what they would look like 'if only' they could lose a stone in weight. Moreover is it reinforcing users to sink deeper into narcissism? After all, it's been proven that women and young girls post more Selfies than males, does this prove that females base their self worth on how attractive they are, opposed to intelligence, personality and skills?
Snapchat is another growing app, being used by 24% of 8 year olds. This is a service where you send photos and a short message to a recipient and it will only exist for 10 seconds before disappearing into the cyber abyss. The very concept of this being temporary could be argued that it encourages users to be more risqué or push boundaries further as it won't be a permanent record of peoples online behaviour. It also could make cyber bullying far more difficult to prove or track, appealing to young people out there who are tempted to send things for a 'joke' when it is anything but for the recipient.
Lastly, on the subject of Selfies...if heads of state are able to make errors in judgement about the appropriacy of taking and sharing their Selfies (Nelson Mandela's memorial) then expect our young people to sometimes get it wrong too.
Good advice to give to young people about selfies
- Employers can and will check online profiles...always be mindful that photos are a true representation of you as a person. They should depict you in a positive light, incorporating interests and hobbies, loved ones and positive aspects of your life other than the stereotypical 'duck face' pouts and buffed up shots. Think- how do I want a stranger to perceive me?
- Pictures can tell a thousand lies, as the saying goes...online pics are not and should not be a substitute for the real relationships. Don't hide behind your online profile. Meet people and communicate face to face to build confidence and network!
- Reflect on your need to post a lot of Selfies, ask yourself 'what is my aim?' what do I want to get out of this? ...maybe you need to fulfil yourself in other ways to gain confidence. Think about what maybe lacking in your life?
- Don't base comments and likes on your self worth and popularity ...you have other qualities other than your looks. It means so much more to get a pat on the back for something you have achieved other than what you were born with.
If you would like to add your thoughts on this topic, please use the comments section below. You may also be interested in the 'Selfies' lesson plan available to E-safety Support Premium and Premium Plus members