How to Coach Your Teen through the ‘Selfie’ Craze

Kids call them “selfies” while parents (likely) call them “image overkill.”

A “selfie” is simply a photo that teens (mostly girls) take of themselves while holding the mobile camera at arms length. They often come in floods online—sometimes dozens a day depending on a teen’s exuberance. Posting photos is nothing new, however, selfies are exploding with the popularity of Instagram. And while posting umpteen photos may seem harmless to a teen at the time, let’s face it, the constant stream of “me, me, me” is not the healthiest reality.

As a mom of a 13-year-old daughter it’s more than a little disturbing watching the cycle of  “fun.” Here’s how it usually goes: Girls will purse their lips, try to look more mature, get in front of the bathroom mirror, and crowd into the camera lens. They get their hair just right. They use a photo app to adjust the photo until they look as good as possible. Then they post. And 10 minutes later they post again; thus, the selfie cycle.

There’s no doubt this growing trend of what might be called “streaming me” creates a daily, subtle assault to a young woman’s bodyimage, self-esteem, and overall beauty perspective.

So how does a parent combat the trend? With candor, consistent (compassionate) communication, and a healthy dose of stealth stalking (don’t overdo it) to make sure there’s a degree of balance.

Here are some tips we hope will help you coach your kids through the selfie craze.

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Refresh perspective. Take the time (repeatedly and lovingly) to remind your daughter that social media is not a true representation of everyday life. Remind them that their peers only post beauty shots—no one looks great all the time.

Watch the Dove videos. Sit down together and watch Dove’s powerful videos on body image and true beauty. If you’ve never seen these videos, you are in for a real boost to your parenting goals!

Affirm acceptance. Send your daughter a strong message that she is accepted, and has unique qualities and individual beauty. Listen and ask questions to show you care about her interests and ideas.

Build the bond. Constantly work on developing a relationship with your daughter that overpowers the influence of her online peers. The goal: That your input becomes one she looks to for true perspective and belonging.

Encourage offline hobbies. Help your daughter develop hobbies and interests (offline) that affirm her skills and highlight her individual interests and talents. You may see the selfies decrease.


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