We have become a society possessed by the selfie. We see people taking photos of themselves in certain environments as part of their social media presence and communication to others. Some of it is just pure fun but one consequence, particularly for young audiences, is that it can create a fixation about how they look. If this becomes a preoccupation and/or fixation it is called selfie dysmorphia, which is a mental health diagnosis.
In a recent Child Mind Institute article this topic is addressed based on research and the perspective given by Psychologist Alexandra Hamlet. Here is the quick read of this article:
The average woman between 16 and 25 years old spends over five hours a week taking (and improving!) selfies. While selfies can be silly and lighthearted, there’s a darker side. With multiple attempts, makeup, retouching and filters, it’s become a competition for the perfect image. And the chances of feeling like you don’t measure up are very high. This makes experts worry about kids’ self-esteem.
Although social media probably isn’t causing full-blown mental health disorders, if a kid was already struggling, social media can make it worse. It can make kids who are depressed or anxious think less of themselves and spend more time comparing themselves to others.
The problem of selfies has been the subject of research and surveys. There is even a phrase to describe people who are fixated on so-called flaws in their appearance because of selfies. It’s “selfie dysmorphia.” This is similar to a diagnosis called body dysmorphic disorder, which is a mental health disorder related to OCD.
To help your child be more aware of how they use social media, try discussing how it makes them feel. Encourage them to think about how they’re feeling before they pick up their phone and to put it down if they start to feel bad.
Helping your child build their self-esteem is important. Compliment your daughter on how she looks, but also on the things she does and how hard she works. When she can see how her skills grow with time and effort, she’ll feel proud of herself. It will help her learn to look at who she is, and not fixate on how she looks.
As innocent and fun as a selfie may seem, it can contribute to low self-esteem and even more serious consequences if allowed to be out of control. As in much of our social media, parents and caregivers should be aware of the possible obsession and liabilities with this phenomenon as kids share their lives on social media. This article can certainly raise awareness for those who may be concerned.