As moms and mentors, we all want our girls to develop a strong sense of self. We want them to move gradually toward independence from us while they strengthen their dependence on God.
Today Arlene helps us understand how the current culture of selfies hinders that growth…and what we can do about it.
Her tips for combating the world’s obsession with self-promotion are exactly what you need to nurture your daughter’s self-worth.
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When I was growing up, the camera of choice was the Polaroid.
I took pictures of my gray and white cat Pokie. I took pictures of my friends, shaking the photo like a fan, waiting for the image to appear out of the black.
But never once did I attempt to point the camera at myself.
Considering the size of the Polaroid at that time, a selfie was virtually impossible. You needed two hands to hold the camera and press the button.
How times have changed! Kids and teens use phones with ease to take selfies – lots of them. More than 90 percent of teens post photos of themselves online.
But all this self-absorption with taking photos comes with a risk.
This may sound ridiculous but did you know that more people die of selfies than shark attacks?
Yep. You read that right.
A recent New York Post article cited dozens of deaths related to tourists taking selfies compared to 8 shark-related deaths during the same time frame.
Now – I know what you’re thinking. The chances of your daughter dying while taking a selfie are slim to none. But the chance of your child being negatively impacted by taking too many selfies is quite high, especially if you have a daughter.
So what’s the problem with selfies anyway?
On the downside, selfies can foster greater narcissism.
Instead of noticing others in a selfie world, your child can become too focused on getting the best shot, receiving the most likes, and touching up photos so they stand out.
A survey of 1,000 young adults showed that millennials spend 7 minutes per selfie. That seems like a lot of time just to take and edit the “perfect” shot. That time could be much better used if your daughter would choose to play instead of fiddling with her photos.
Your girl can look for validation in these selfies. Are her peers noticing the photos? Do they like them?
Some teens push the envelope in terms of safety or modesty in order to gain more attention. Your girl may consider accepting a challenge like standing on a tall building or show too much skin in order to get that post-worthy selfie.
As our girls grow up into adults, we want them to become like the women in 1 Timothy 2. Young women who adorn themselves “with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds” (v. 9-10).
We want our girls to be known for their faith and good works, not their killer selfies.
Yet as she points the lens to herself over and over, day after day, it reinforces the idea that she is the star of the show.
Challenge: Encourage your girl to cultivate humility, despite this constant landscape of selfies and self-promotion.
Action Step: As a parent, you must lead the way by example and by providing guidelines. If your daughter sees you constantly taking selfies and touching them up before posting, do you think she may grow up to do the same?
Parenting is both hard and great because it often pushes us to change ourselves for the better to leave a good example to our kids.
When your daughter gets to the store, park, or vacation spot, and she is more interested in taking selfies than looking around, that will be your clue that it’s time to make some changes.
It might be time to say, “One selfie only” to capture the moment. Then put away the phones and be in the moment. You want your daughter to make memories and then snap a photo to remember.
You don’t want the whole memory to be about taking the perfect photo.
Help your girl avoid the extremes of the selfie-world such as the obsession with being camera ready, touching up for perfection, capturing dangerous activity, and over-sharing. Talk with your her about selfies, asking questions like:
Are the selfies you take genuine, reflecting who you really want to be?
How do you feel when no one likes your photo? How much does that matter to you?
Where does your value come from? Is it from your social media accounts or something less fickle?
Do you build happy friendships mostly phone-to-phone, or face-to-face?
My 10-year-old daughter Lucy will occasionally grab my phone and take a selfie of herself. I say occasionally because usually I stop her with “Put my phone down.”
I don’t want Lucy getting accustomed to taking selfies at a young age. There’s so much more to record and notice all around.
After all, life is much happier and healthier when you put others in the center of the lens, and not yourself.
Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of several books including Parents Rising, 31 Days to a Happy Husband and Calm, Cool, and Connected: 5 Digital Habits for a More Balanced Life. Arlene has been a featured guest on the Today Show, Fox & Friends, Focus on the Family, FamilyLife Today, The 700 Club, and Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah. Arlene hosts The Happy Home podcast and writes regularly for Proverbs 31 Ministries and Girlfriends in God. Arlene earned her BA from Biola University and her Masters in Journalism from Regent University. Arlene lives in San Diego with her husband James and their three children Ethan, Noelle, and Lucy. To learn more, visit www.ArlenePellicane.com
If you’re looking for more ways to encourage your daughter to develop habits that will positively shape the way she interacts with the world (both digital and physical) as she grows, don’t miss Arlene’s free video series, Screen Time: 3 Reasons Why Your Daughter Can’t Stop. Click here to watch.