Teens and Selfies: What Parents Need to Know

Selfies actually pose several emotional and physical dangers.
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Now that smartphones have become the norm for most teens, selfies are on the rise. Selfies, short for self-portraits, are often shared with world on social media sites, like Facebook or Instagram. Although taking and posting selfies may seem harmless at first, there are some problems that can arise.

Selfies and Self-Worth

Many teens post their selfies on social media. Then, they wait to see what type of reaction they receive.

Their self-worth depends on how others react to their pictures.

A teen who receives positive comments about a selfie, may feel good. However, a lack of response can lead to a teen feeling bad.

In an effort to get positive reactions from others, some teens go too far in attempting to take the 'perfect selfie.'

In 2014, for example, a 19-year-old teen made headlines when he became so obsessed with taking the perfect selfie that he dropped out of school and spent all day taking pictures of himself. It led to an eventual suicide attempt.

Similar stories have appeared in the news as other teens share the lengths they've gone through to take the best possible pictures of themselves. Some of them spend hours each day trying to capture a picture they find worthy of sharing on social media. 

Teens with mental health issues may be at an especially high risk of becoming obsessed with selfies. For teens who become obsessed with their appearance, social media may actually wreak havoc on their social lives.

Selfies and A Teen’s Reputation

Although most teens aren’t likely to develop an obsession with selfies, there are still dangers that accompany these repeated self-portraits. If teens aren’t careful about the type of pictures they share, a selfie could ruin their reputation.

Many teens are sharing scantily clad photos for the entire world to see.

Others expect that the selfies they’re sharing will remain private if they send them to only one or two people. They don’t realize that selfies can be easily shared with the world once they’re out there in cyberspace.

A teen who shares a partially nude photo with a boyfriend, for example, may be surprised to discover that he’s shared it with his friends. Or worse yet, if they break up, that photo could be posted on social media in an act of revenge.

Physical Dangers of Selfies

Frighteningly, a common trend among teens is to take selfies that include action shots in the background. Teens are taking photos of themselves in front of burning buildings, while standing underneath waterfalls, or while performing dangerous stunts.

Trying to gain the best action shot can lead to serious danger. Some teens, however, don’t recognize the risks. When they view their friends performing these risky behaviors, it often encourages them to do the same.

Talk to Your Teen About Selfies

Selfies can be a healthy way for teens to express themselves.

However, teens need some guidance around what’s appropriate and what isn’t. Help your teen understand how selfies can become problematic.

Monitor the quantity and the content of your teen’s selfies. While there isn’t a set number of selfies that signals your teen may have a problem, you should ensure that your teen’s picture taking escapades aren’t interfering with real-life. If your teen gives up time with friends or isn’t able to get chores done because she’s busy posting selfies, it could signal a problem.

Hold frequent conversations with your teen about the dangers of selfies. Ask questions about social media and what your teen thinks about people who post selfies. Educate your teen about how selfies could be viewed by future employers or college admissions offices.

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