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Teen Word of the Year
Are selfies an indication of narcissism in teens or just plain fun?
Image: Selfie by author
I was kidding around with my fiancé the other day: We were doing that Saturday morning Facebook trawl when we came across someone’s account which consists of almost nothing but pictures she has taken of herself. “It’s Facebook, not Selfiebook”, I said. The word has been voted Word of the Year by the Oxford English Dictionary, and perhaps it says something about today’s teens.

Is it narcissism?

Teens are very self-aware. They start developing tastes in hairstyles and clothing, some of which they’ll regret in years to come, but that’s part of the fun. So they capture each tiny shift of the fringe with the classic taken-from-above pic and share it on social media. There are pouty ones, going-out makeup ones, makeup-free ones and just-chilling ones.

All serve to archive what appears to be the teen’s life: Me, me and me. And that’s ok. Teens need to develop that sense of self. Imagine yourself as a teen again: Within a year your face can change shape, your hair can change texture and you are learning to adapt to an older, more adult you. Sharing the pics on social media generally inspires favourable comments from friends such as “kewl pic!” Teens need this time to reconcile the child with the adult they’re becoming.

With a word of warning, of course

There are instances which aren’t appropriate for selfies, such as pics taken at that first party where a teen gets drunk.  (Yes, that DOES happen), or at a funeral (yes, that was a craze in the US this year). Generally, your teen’s friends will call them out when the pic is inappropriate. Hopefully your kid will know not to post pics to social media which may compromise their hunt for a tertiary institution or job later on!

With influential celebrities posting sometimes sensual or even erotic pics of themselves it’s a good idea to make it clear to your teen that sexy selfies can cause endless trouble. The internet can be a cruel place to discover this.

But the duckface? I reckon that’s just silly, old-fashioned fun. And I’m a dad, so it’s partially my job to make fun of my kids, and for them to make fun of me. I still take lots of pictures of them. I call them “youies.” Hashtag-smileyface.

Is your teen a selfie-addict?

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