Selfie culture causing angst with teenage girls

It’s a quest for the teenage girl to craft the perfect shot. It starts with a simple selfie. Apply a little make-up, caress the hair into position, lean forward to elevate the developing cleavage, put on some smokey eyes, pout the lips and click. Perfecting the self-portrait is done with a filter, some editing, then to Instagram it goes for critique and peer review with several hashtags to round out the post.

Take a look at any teenage girl’s highlight reel and you see posts seeking validation from their close friends and those beyond. At the innocent end of the spectrum, the selfies will have clothes on; at the risque end there will be little or no clothes at all. Motives will differ with age and audience, yet the search for validation is primary.

Boys get in on the act too, but girls appear to give it a greater priority, effort and social standing. At its extreme, girls inadvertently take up the pressure of storyteller, photographer, editor and publisher to polish a look online far from reality in the pursuit of popularity via likes, shares and more.

It could be easy to dismiss this act as a modern-day fad accompanying the developmental stages of a teenage girl. We should not. It is more than that and must be a serious point of parent reflection, because teenage girls pursuing perfectionism online is a mirage.

In a recent poll by UK Girlguiding (1000 girls, 11-21 years of age) 35 per cent consider their biggest online worry is comparing themselves and their lives to others. Other concerns were the altering of photos, using them out of context and how they look in those photos.

The poll also suggests the parents of teenage girls did not recognise this as a problem. Only 12 per cent of girls said their parents had a concern about the pressure of comparing themselves online.

There is a generational disconnect in action between parents and teenage girls brought about by mobile devices and social media. Teenage girls are savvy users with knowledge beyond that of their parents. Left in “catch-up” mode and often caught off guard by the latest online incident, parents feel helpless as they attempt to support and resolve the accompanying emotional distress.

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Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

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