Our children and their selfies
"Eight youths, who had gone for a picnic to the picturesque Vena Lake near Nagpur, drowned when they fell off a boat while clicking selfies”; “One in three Indian pedestrians take selfies while crossing roads”; “Selfies have been a major cause of unforeseen deaths in the recent past and India accounts for 50 percent of all of them around the world as reports from Carnegie Mellon University, Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi and National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli suggest.” “A 30-year-old man was trampled to death by an elephant at the Bannerghatta Biological Park on Tuesday, after he and his friends sneaked into the park to take selfies with the elephant"
The above are some of the recent headlines in the media. Not only this, taking selfies has become a part of the culture among our youth. Now the older generation like ours, though we are learning to take selfies but we are not very familiar to the ways these teenagers use them. Can we say a blatant NO to this kind of system? I am not sure. Can we completely accept all the nonsense that is associated with this , especially taking selfies forgetting the reality around us and risking their own lives, Definitely NO. I feel as parents , we need to understand the psychology of our children behind this, stoop down to their level to understand the technical aspects of this and make the aware of the pros and cons of taking selfies or using technology for that matter.
I have put my thoughts together on this and I have tried being irrational on this, I would suggest you read this article along with your teenager who loves to take selfies:
Why a selfie?
A selfie is no different from arriving at a job interview looking your best, Rutledge says. The photos intend to present yourself in your best light, and with social media, young people have the power to do so whenever they want. Selfies have become a primarily a form of communication that is more immediate, more authentic. Teenagers care what other people think of them, and they care about monitoring the social environment, so how they present themselves matters. Teenage years involve forming their identity through socializing, and in today’s world, social interactions can occur 24/7 through smartphones. In fact, social media helps many introverted adolescents make connections they may not have otherwise.
Adolescents are much more closely tied to each other than they've ever been. They post selfies for people to see – for the world to see. There is a certain type of empowerment with that, that they can sort of choose what they do and how they present themselves. Selfies contribute to the online personas teens create for themselves. From pictures to statuses, each component builds their online identity. And while this might seem overly self-interested to some adults, Rutledge says teens today are no more concerned about their appearances than teens of the past. It’s the same culture, just presented in a new format.
A lot of what you see in profiles is people’s aspirational self or their best self. This shifting in identity isn’t unusual, it’s just people are seeing and aware of it now. when a teenager posts a selfie, his or her desire for likes or comments is part of the natural desire for peer approval. “You put [a selfie] out there because you're looking for that form of validation,” Psychologists say. I feel That’s the danger with teenagers overly looking for that external form of validation rather than trying to foster internal validation.
What Can Parents Do?
Because older generations often don't understand photo filters and hashtags such as #TBT (Throwback Thursday) and #MCM (Man Crush Monday), young people are exploring new social territory without guidance or limits. By navigating this new terrain alone, some run into problems. In moderation, selfies and social media can be positive tools for self-expression. Parents can help their teen have a positive online experience by allowing access to social media when they feel their son or daughter reaches an age when they can handle it. Knowing how long your teen spends online is also important to ensure they're not spending an excessive amount of time on social networks.
While schools may teach about cyberbullying and online predators, it's important for parents to educate their teens on the mental dangers of social media addiction and advise them to not post anything too personal or identifying information such as their cellphone number or address. As I always mention, for parents, I would say it’s really important to talk to kids and not lecture them. With most teenagers, making pronouncements doesn’t work nearly as well as negotiating. Parents should also help their teens form an identity independent from their online profiles. Empower them to explore their strengths and develop their skills. Because teens’ decision-making abilities are still developing, it's imperative to always keep the discussion about healthy online behavior open. It’s all about balance – balance of purpose as well as balance of use.
(The author is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Learning Arena, an e-learning company)