My sister begged me the other day… “How can I get my 13 year old daughter to stop it already with the selfie’s!” I knew exactly what she was talking about. Her daughter was over at my house one day playing with my kids, and I just hear from over on the couch… click, click, click, click, click, click… ARGH! “That’s ENOUGH” I said to her. So what is this obsession with selfie’s? Are we raising a bunch of narcissists? Are WE a bunch of narcissists?
In order to stop the selfie, we need to understand why it is the teens and tweens around us are SO obsessed with selfies? I read an article recently that spelled it out for me, and realized their theory was exactly right on.
When we were kids and pagers were only for drug dealers (really, that’s what we thought, until we all started getting pagers too), you would buy some new clothes wear them to school, someone may or may not compliment your new outfit and you felt good about your purchase…. or not…
Popularity was this mysterious thing, where kids were popular just because they WERE. If they decided to grace you with their company during lunch, suddenly you could be popular too. These days though, popularity is actually quantifiable. I post a new skirt I just purchased, and immediately 5 of my friends like it. Someone else posts a picture of the new skirt they got, and immediately 100 people like it. Who is more popular? Is it just that folks like her new skirt better than mine, or do people like HER better than ME?
Which brings up very interesting thoughts on the way our kids are living. They don’t know a world where “likes” don’t exist. It always boggled me why our children would want to get as many followers on instagram as they could, and why they would ask for likes on their photos. It’s not like they are using this as a business tool. Now I understand, though, that it’s not about growing a brand or a business for them, it is a literal measure of how popular they are.
So, here is how you get them to stop with all the incessant self picture taking. Let them know that people don’t want to see endless pictures of them. If they post the same type of picture every single day, they aren’t going to inspire people to click that like button. People like variety. Show them some of the really popular instagram accounts where people are honing their photography skills. Help them to understand how to take really awesome pictures of THINGS not just of themselves, and more people will like them. Appeal to their NEED to have that quantifiable popularity.
Another thing to mention to them, is that they can use things like instagram to document their life. If I just saw a picture of you with your tongue sticking out, I have no idea where you are when you took that photo. Instead if you are at Ballet class… take a picture of your feet in ballet shoes, if you are at swim meet, take a picture of your swim cap and goggles (maybe even when they are on your head, but you don’t necessarily have to include your face… or a picture of the blocks (where swimmers stand to start a race). Endless photos of just a face will tell me nothing about what you are doing during the day, and won’t give you a great “scrapbook” to look back on at the end of the year.
Assure them that it’s not that you don’t want to see their gorgeous face over and over again, it’s just that variety is the spice of life and they will find a lot more joy in branching out.
And let’s face it… no one’s selfie will EVER be better than THIS selfie…
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 3, 2014
So we should all just quit while we are ahead, right?
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