There is a lot more to young people's obsession with posting photos of themselves and their lives. Selfies can play an important role in a young person developing self-confidence and identity.
There are literally millions of photos tagged #selfie and #me on Instagram. While it might seem that young people are obsessed about documenting everything including themselves, selfies can be a positive part of discovering identity.
The rise of the selfie
Selfies are not new. Self-portraits have been around a long time in art and photography. Over time, technology has made it easier to capture photos of ourselves. Self-timers, photo booths and instant cameras have made it possible to make selfies decades before the forward-facing cameras on smartphones allowed the selfie phenomenon to take off. Now, lots of apps (such as Instagram, Snapchat or A Color Story) are designed to help you take interesting and unique selfies, including using filters and creative options for changing your appearance.
There can be risks associated with taking selfies. Office of the eSafety Commissioner has advice on what you and your child can do if they face bullying and harassment online as a result of a selfie or other social media post.
However, selfies can also be positive, formative experiences for young people.
Selfies can help young people to:
- figure out more about who they are
- capture and share memories of exciting and important events
- connect with their friends and peers
- have fun and express themselves.
Selfies, social media and self-confidence
Young people value taking and sharing selfies as an important way to express themselves and connect with friends online. You can help your child to build a positive online presence by talking with them about the different ways that you can represent yourself online and the positive and negative impacts selfies can have on self-confidence.
Consider having a discussion with your child about the following topics:
- having fun and taking photos together
- what healthy online relationships look like
- balancing social media with offline interests
- what their definition of ‘oversharing’ is
- how to create a positive ‘personal brand’
- how to control and delete comments and posts that can appear on your social media networks.
- ways and places to get support other than from the social media platform you are using, for example the Office of the eSafety Commissioner website, Kids Helpline, Headspace, Be You and ReachOut.com.
Curriculum and syllabus links
NSW Syllabus outcomes
Australian Curriculum content descriptions
- 'Office of the eSafety Commissioner Homepage', Office of the eSafety Commissioner, accessed 23 January 2019
- 'Games, apps and social networks', Office of the eSafety Commissioner, accessed 23 January 2019
- Cyberbullying: A guide to online bullying for parents and carers', Office of the eSafety Commissioner, accessed 6 December 2019