Mirror Mirror on the Wall – The Selfie and the Psychological Impact on our Teens

Selfie2The urbandictionary defines a Selfie as: ‘A picture taken of yourself and uploaded to Facebook, or other social media sites. You can usually see the person’s arm holding out the camera. A selfie is usually accompanied by a kissy or duck face or the individual looking in a direction that is not towards the camera’.

It has become the ubiquitous signature pic of today’s teen.  But why?

In an article on mashable, Andrea Letamendi, a Doctor of Psychology at UCLA says that the opinion of others is an integral part of our identity development. The Snow White “looking-glass self” is a psychological concept that suggests we develop our sense of self based on the perceptions of those we interact with.  Teens in particular, seek the validation of other teens to establish a sense of identity.

In our day ‘those we interact(ed) with’ were limited to a few. Their ability to give an opinion was equally limited in terms of opportunity and place.

With Social Media platforms,  Friends and/or Followers in their hundreds, and sometimes thousands have the ease of the ‘Like, Comment, or Share’ tools to register their perception of your teen’s self as often as they like, at any time they like, in conjunction with and in front of others.

They also perhaps more importantly have the power to NOT ‘Like’ or just ignore a ‘Selfie’ and this can crush self esteem yet teens continue put themselves ‘out there’ hoping to be endorsed by their peers.  The overwhelming need to fit in at this stage; to be liked, to be approved of,  supersedes any self protective instincts at this age.

As says Dr. Letamendi says, ‘Now that we can interact with hundreds — no, thousands — of people simultaneously, we’ve strengthened the impact that others have on our self-value.’

A conversation to be had with your teen…….

The Social Psychology of the Selfie.

About Renata Rowe

Deputy Head of Campus/Head of Secondary, Ivanhoe Grammar School, Plenty Campus This blog is the School's way of helping our parents and teachers understand and experience the cyber world that their children live in. We post stories about the latest cyber safety issues, and the latest social mediums that their children and teens might be using. We believe that teaching children and teens to be good Digital Citizen from a young age will protect them and their reputations. Our parents have been delighted and have subscribed so that they can receive our updates - we post about once or twice a week. So subscribe - its easy to do, just enter your email address in the box in the top righthand corner of the home page and posts will automatically be delivered to you.
This entry was posted in Cyber Bullying, Cyber Safety, Dangers, Facebook, Parental Controls, Parents, Teens, Tweens and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Mirror Mirror on the Wall – The Selfie and the Psychological Impact on our Teens

  1. Pingback: Teens post ‘Here I am Pics’ and ‘Kik me @’ | iCyberSafe.com – Living in a Connected World

  2. medics999 says:

    This is really interesting, maybe a year ago I thought this is mainly frustration (in the case of those who ‘live’ on Facebook and upload ‘selfies’ and statuses about EVERYTHING that they do… but now I think that besides that, it’s also related to the friends you have and how they interact with the social platforms. Also, even those who have an active social life and are positively involved within their group, still seek attention from the outside. It’s a psychological need to be liked by the rest, and I reckon that the teenagers nowadays extended their notion of ‘the rest’ and found this way to express their developing selves.
    Here’s a link to my blog: http://deliacaltea.wordpress.com/
    Maybe you can check it out if you get bored one day 😀

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