When it comes to teenagers there is nothing we like more than to judge them and label all the things we don’t understand; there is nothing that gets more of a bad rap than the humble teen girl selfie.
Pouting at the camera with one hand gracefully placed in your hair behind a locked bathroom door (presumably so no one can see the numerous facial expression you have to pull until you get the perfect look) is certainly a phenomenon that most adults shake their heads at.
Freya, my youngest , 15, selfie obsessed.
It makes us as onlookers think they are self-obsessed, narcissistic and driven by image.
Dr. Michelle Borba, author of UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, explains:
Self-absorption kills empathy. Narcissism is “it’s all me.” Empathy is feeling with someone. Empathy is always “we, it’s not me.” The problem is kids are tuning into themselves, and what we need to do is flip the lens and start looking at others. We started to emphasize one side of the report card and we forgot the other side, which is “You’re also a caring human being.” Let’s redefine success so it’s not just a GPA, but it’s also a kid who has heart.
The link between selfies and obsessive, narcissistic behaviour is certainly up for debate, with many having strong opinions.
Me, I am on the not a problem with selfie side.
Bronte, my eldest, 19, not so selfie obsessed
I see them as a creative form of expression, an empowerment call from young women to take back the way they look and I see no correlation between the kind of selfies someone takes and whether they are empathetic or not.
So I was beside myself with some recent research that has strongly linked taking selfies to happiness.
The University of California has found that regularly snapping selfies with your Smartphone and sharing photos with your friends can help make you a happier person.
So as well as a way to be creative selfies can also help you increase your mental well-being.
The report goes on,
“Our research showed that practicing exercises that can promote happiness via Smartphone picture taking and sharing can lead to increased positive feelings for those who engage in it,” said lead author Yu Chen, a postdoctoral scholar in UCI’s Department of Informatics. “This is particularly useful information for returning college students to be aware of, since they face many sources of pressure.”
And for me this makes perfect sense. For a generation that are plagued with mental health and well being issues, spending the time to create an image of yourself you like, that shows who you want to be rather than how you might feel at the moment is bound to make you feel better. Anything that improves your mood and makes you feel different about yourself has got to be better that wallowing in a bad mood, right?
I know that some will disagree, suggesting that taking a selfie rather than feeling the feeling or talking it through equates to denial. And while I can see that point of view, I would argue that being able to take yourself out of a low mood by taking a positive action has to be a good thing. If the suggestion was “go for a walk” I am sure I would find no one would disagree, but because it’s “take a selfie”, people are not so sure it is the right action.
We need to stop judging young people by the standards we hold true and start allowing them to find their own unique ways through things and if that involves selfie-taking and technology, we shouldn’t judge.
So next time you see a teen taking a selfie, think before you tut and turn away. They could just be trying to make themselves feel better