Selfies... harmless fun or careless exposure?

Michael Gove has done it recently, As has David Camreron and Barack Obama...(courting controversy in its wake too)...we're talking 'Selfies' and a staggering 91% of teens are doing it.

Along with the growing trend, there are accompanying Apps which play up to our insecurities and perpetuate the concept that we need to project the perfect image to the world. The Apps that are most worrying are 'Skinnee pix' and Snapchat.

Skinnee pix is the most worrying app in terms of young people as it’s designed to shed up to 15 lbs off your image. Justifying the app, the makers claim that photos add an average of 15 lbs to the average person and they are simply just taking away what photos add. However, it's still encouraging teens to see and be curious about what they would look like 'if only' they could lose a stone in weight. Moreover is it reinforcing users to sink deeper into narcissism? After all, it's been proven that women and young girls post more Selfies than males, does this prove that females base their self worth on how attractive they are, opposed to intelligence, personality and skills?

Snapchat is another growing app, being used by 24% of 8 year olds. This is a service where you send photos and a short message to a recipient and it will only exist for 10 seconds before disappearing into the cyber abyss. The very concept of this being temporary could be argued that it encourages users to be more risqué or push boundaries further as it won't be a permanent record of peoples online behaviour. It also could make cyber bullying far more difficult to prove or track, appealing to young people out there who are tempted to send things for a 'joke' when it is anything but for the recipient.

Lastly, on the subject of Selfies...if heads of state are able to make errors in judgement about the appropriacy of taking and sharing their Selfies (Nelson Mandela's memorial) then expect our young people to sometimes get it wrong too.

Good advice to give to young people about selfies

- Employers can and will check online profiles...always be mindful that photos are a true representation of you as a person. They should depict you in a positive light, incorporating interests and hobbies, loved ones and positive aspects of your life other than the stereotypical 'duck face' pouts and buffed up shots. Think- how do I want a stranger to perceive me?

- Pictures can tell a thousand lies, as the saying goes...online pics are not and should not be a substitute for the real relationships. Don't hide behind your online profile. Meet people and communicate face to face to build confidence and network!

- Reflect on your need to post a lot of Selfies, ask yourself 'what is my aim?' what do I want to get out of this? ...maybe you need to fulfil yourself in other ways to gain confidence. Think about what maybe lacking in your life?

- Don't base comments and likes on your self worth and popularity ...you have other qualities other than your looks. It means so much more to get a pat on the back for something you have achieved other than what you were born with.

If you would like to add your thoughts on this topic, please use the comments section below. You may also be interested in the 'Selfies' lesson plan available to E-safety Support Premium and Premium Plus members

Written by Vicki Dan on April 17, 2014 17:13

Selfies and the development of cyber language

I recently saw an advert for a smartphone with the strapline ‘putting the camera first’. Now call me old fashioned, but surely the phone should come first?

Having an all-in-one device which incorporates a camera has changed the way we use photography in our everyday lives. It’s not that long ago that taking photo’s was largely limited to a roll or two of film used exclusively for family holidays and Christmas parties which had to be developed and turned into printed photographs (then undoubtedly stuffed into a drawer and forgotten about).

Today though, taking photos is something which we are encouraged to do daily and then share via our social media network. And the latest trend for taking these photos it to take one of yourself, or taking a ‘selfie’.

This week , Oxford Dictionaries classified selfie as their word of the year and defined is as:

  • a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website. occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself every day isn’t necessary
  • It seems that the word also has derivations including belfie – a bum selfie, delfie – a drunken selfie and helfie – a hairstyle selfie amongst others!

    This spontaneous way of taking photos seems like harmless fun – and indeed in its purest form it is. Take for example the recent news about a young girl who took a selfie at a Beyonce concert and was delighted to get her icon in the shot (we could add the new phrase photobomb here too). That’s what selfies are all about, but it doesn’t take much for it to go wrong.

    It could start as someone posting a selfie online. Invited or not, comments could be made and potentially this could lead to (another term we are unfortunately becoming familiar with) cyber bullying.

    Or perhaps we should introduce another recent addition to common language – sexting. Sending or requesting inappropriate selfie images, or sexting, could lead to distress, bullying, blackmail or indeed criminal prosecution.

    The development of the mobile device and technology in general has given rise to a number of other phrases and meanings including smartphone (as discussed in our ‘Is that a phone in your pocket’ article) or it’s opposite dumbphone, tablet, android, iOS, live-stream, refollow, hackable, phablet, digital detox, MOOC, internet of things, BYOD....

    According to Oxford Dictionaries, technology remains the catalyst for new words emerging – and that can only be fuelled by how we use the technology we have access to. We must therefore ensure that young people become good digital citizens and use the technology responsibly.



    Image from Oxford Dictionaries Selfies Infographic

    Written by Safeguarding Essentials on November 20, 2013 13:31


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