The SELFIE Game
I get it.
Being a teen and going through adolescence can be a daunting and tumultuous journey that can break even the strongest.
I also understand that this is the time when teens are trying to define themselves, trying to figure out who they are. They are playing around with different personas and seeing which one they like best.
This is also a time when they CRAVE attention. More specifically...POSITIVE FEEDBACK. They are looking to their peers to see how their actions, their behaviours, their beliefs, garner them reactions. Which posts get the most likes? Which pictures get them the most love and positive comments?
Social media gives our teens IMMEDIATE feedback. Feedback that they use to alter, tweak, shift their persona into something they think others like best.
And that is where the problem lies.
What “others” like best. Not what they them self believe to be best. Not what they necessarily feel most comfortable being. But rather an image, a role, that their friends and peers have helped mold and assigned to them. Posting sexy pics that garner them “wow you are so hot/sexy” comments can do a lot to bolster their self-esteem in the moment (but is that really what we want our young girls to see as their most valuable asset). The problem is this “LIKE” game is a dangerous one. Through these posts and pics our teens begin to create a persona, something that they now have to live up to. Something that once assigned can be very difficult to break free from. Self-image and self-worth are constructs that are developed during the teen years can last a lifetime.
We see it all around us in our adult friends. The “jock” who is now reliving their youth through their teens athletic accomplishments. The once “popular” girl who is now making sure her daughter is hanging out with the cool crowd and going to the cool parties. The over-parented kid who had so many rules and limitations put on them as a youth that they now let their teenager have unlimited freedom.
As parents I think it is our job to monitor this. It is our job to be the rational one. It is our job to consistently talk with our teens about the “why” behind selfies on social media. And even more importantly, it is our job to boost them up, provide them with opportunities to gain confidence, resiliency, strength and to teach them that they and they alone, have the power to decide who they are and who they want to be. And as moms, women, we MUST teach our teenage daughters that their worth and value DOES NOT lie in their looks or how “hot” they are deemed on social. We must teach them that they are so much more than that. That they have so much more to give to the world. That they can make changes and influence the world to be a better place. A more inclusive place. A world where true equality exists for all people.
We must teach them to seek RESPECT and not attention.