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 E-safety Support on November 20, 2013 12:54


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