With the selfie craze consuming adults and children alike, we explain the pros and cons of this new trend.
By Team ParentCircle
Is your child gripped by the selfie fever? Is he always keen on clicking the best selfie? Are you, as a parent, worried about your child’s selfie obsession? In the world of photography today, selfies have become a norm and not an exception. Be it a birthday party, a family get-together, a festival celebration, or just a simple meet-up with friends, the occasion is deemed ‘incomplete’ without selfies. Thanks to smartphones and social media, you can shoot and post a selfie without much ado. Ironically, more than you and I, it is our children who are addicted to the idea of selfies today. So, don’t be surprised if your child reads this article even before you do!
‘Selfie’, declared word of the year in 2013, is an extension of yourself. Whenever you decide to shoot a selfie, there is an innate urge to present yourself in the best possible way. And it never stops with a single selfie. After the first image is posted online, shared, re-tweeted, tagged, liked, and approved by your friends with emoticons, you go for the second one. It becomes addictive in no time.
The craze for selfies in today’s world is evident from the fact that even celebrities from all walks of life post selfies regularly. Today, gadgets like 'selfie toaster' are available in the market to feed the growing appetite for selfies. This appliance renders selfies on slices of bread through steel inserts, which imprint your selfie onto your favourite toast.
Apart from friends and family, the selfie phenomenon has seen people getting cosy with lions and tigers in recent years. Alarmed at the mindless craze for selfies with wild animals, a New York Governor was forced to sign a legislation that makes it illegal to capture selfies with the wild cats!
As much as we’d like to believe, selfie is not a 21st century phenomenon. At least, the idea of selfies has existed from the old ‘Kodak’ era. Prior to the digital era, photo booths in railway stations and airports helped capture selfies. The era of 1950s and 60s witnessed an exciting trend of Polaroids, which allowed you to take an instant selfie and share it with friends. Polaroids were probably the first means to share images on the fly.
In the late 1960s and 70s came the SLR (Single Lens Reflex) cameras with timers that made the selfie-taking process much simpler by ruling out awkwardly captured moments. In the 80s and early 90s, the lightweight compact cameras were held at arm's length to capture the selfie. The big moment in the world of photography came in the late 90s with the invasion of the digital cameras. They took the world by storm and negated the need to visit a studio to develop a roll of film since the camera enabled instant review of images.
At the turn of the millennium, many things changed. In 2004, images tagged #selfie were noticed on Flickr for the first time. But it was the smartphones that created a selfie rage.
It may sound staggering, but data reveal that over 1 million selfies are taken each day, which accounts for close to 700 selfies every minute. Studies conducted by Techinfographics.com indicate that globally, 50 per cent of men and 52 per cent of women enjoy taking selfies; 14 per cent of selfies are digitally enhanced and 36 per cent of the selfie-loving crowd admit to altering their selfies. Most of the selfies are shared on Facebook (48 per cent), followed closely by WhatsApp (27 per cent), Twitter (9 per cent) and Instagram (8 per cent).
According to statistics released by a leading smartphone brand, selfies constitute 30 per cent of the photos taken by adults in the 18-24 age group.
Most of you post selfies online with the belief that it will interest your select group of friends and well-wishers. However, the World Wide Web enables complete strangers to access and view the images that you have shared online. And this is exactly why the concept has become a cause for concern for many selfie-loving enthusiasts. As a parent, you must be aware of the social media sites your children visit to share selfies.
Dr Devaki V, a Chennai-based Counsellor, says, “There are more disadvantages to selfies than advantages. The only major advantage I can think of is that it makes for good memories. You can always go back and cherish those moments. However, today many people take selfies for anything and everything. They go to a marriage function and meet relatives, but are so busy clicking pictures, that they forget to even talk. All that is left is just the picture. It can also have a psychological effect on the children when they post selfies online and do not get any likes or comments. I've come across many such cases. It isn't bad to take selfies, just that we need to limit it to the time when it is necessary.”
Further, experts have warned that selfies tend to create body image insecurities among young women, especially teenagers. So when you find your young daughter comparing herself with images of her friends shared online, you know that it is time to address the issue.
Another disturbing trend that merits the attention of parents is the Teenage Boy Selfie (TBS). In this phenomenon, we find that many teens post selfies of themselves from schools, shopping centres, sporting events and even from their bathrooms! Though many such teens would like to believe that they are asserting their dominance and masculinity in the digital world, the truth is quite the opposite. It shows their lack of self-esteem.
They are victims of the system and turn to their smartphones for comfort when they feel inadequate. As a parent, you must know that your teenage son is only seeking approval from his peers through his behaviour since he does not feel empowered.Sameer, a financial consultant from Bangalore says, “I live in a huge gated community with over 500 flats and during weekends at our recreation centre, I see many teens just obsessed with selfies. It doesn’t end there. In a flash, the same picture is shared on all the social media platforms. I wonder if they are even aware of the risks involved with it.”
All these insights tell you why you should proceed with caution while posting selfies online. Having said that, ‘healthy’ selfies are also a very exciting way to bond as a family and as a group of friends. So, go ahead, enjoy your selfie moments, with care and love.
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