Parents Freaking Out Over Teens' 'Selfie' Trend Need to Lighten Up

teen selfieOh boy, here we go again. A teenage girl has come out with a scathing indictment of the "selfie" trend that's sure to send parents everywhere into a tither and reaching for their kids' smartphones to "save them" from themselves. Allow me to save yourself the heart attack, y'all.

A selfie, in case you have thus far been living a life blissfully duckface-free, is pretty much what it sounds like. It's a photo taken of one's self (so clever, I know). Australian teenager Olympia Nelson is getting a lot of attention right now for exposing the "dark undercurrents" of said self-focused photos.


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Nelson claims that Facebook and Instagram have turned our kids' lives into a "sexual rat race," and I'll agree with at least some of what she says. It's sad that even in 2013, kids are still looking outside for approval of their bodies rather than being able to find a comfort within themselves.

But couple her viral essay with warnings to parents that social media is turning our kids into little narcissists, and there's practically a loud siren screaming at parents to confiscate the cameraphones and save kids from destroying their lives.

Only let's step back for a second. Is this trend of kids taking photos of themselves and their friends really anything new?

Sure, it's much easier (and cheaper) to take photos with digital cameras and phones than ever before. It's much easier (and again cheaper) to share them with friends thanks to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

But as long as there have been cheap cameras, teenagers have been taking photos of themselves and their friends. Watch any teen flick from the '80s or '90s, and you'll notice no bedroom wall or mirror was complete without a collage of photos of themselves and their buddies.

When I was a kid back in the dark ages (but we had cameras!), it was social suicide if you didn't get your mom to order at least a pile of wallet photos at picture time so you could trade them with your friends. Long before Facebook likes, you could tell how popular a kid was by how many lockers her (or his) photo hung in around the school.

And you better believe we were being rated. Guys (and girls) pawed through the yearbook, judging the photos on each page.

I'm not going to say you shouldn't talk to your kids about self-esteem and help them find comfort in their own skin. Every parent needs to do that. 

But we need to stop turning everything our kids do into an "issue," stop finding things to be worried about.

Our kids aren't growing up worse than we did; they're just growing up different.

Do you feel like kids taking photos of themselves and their friends today are really in emotional danger? Is it really so different from our childhoods?


Image via sheshakes/Flickr

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