Are todays kids all about selfie poses and narcissistic self gratification?
One only needs to scroll through an Instagram feed or check out the Facebook or Ask.Fm timelines of a few kids to see a pattern of egocentricity that permeates the social networking sites of todays adolescents.
Is it that todays kids are different to those of years gone by? Or do they just have so many more platforms available to put themselves on show?
On photo sharing apps we are bombarded with selfie after pouting selfie poses to get the attention and praise from mates and strangers who respond with a “you’re so gorgeous, you are the prettiest EVA”…thus fuelling the need to keep adding more and more pouts. We see other posts that ask all and sundry to rate them on a scale of 1 to 10 for their sporting ability, their looks, their friendship. Then there are sites like ask.fm and qooh.me that kids flock to in droves, asking an often anonymous public to question them on absolutely anything. They reveal their inner most secrets for others to gush over……or alternatively ‘rip into’, which we know is the all too familiar negative consequence of putting yourself out there.
There are certainly many kids that are not feeling this need or are far more cautious about how much they expose of themselves. I spoke to a 14 year old recently who said it was “social suicide” to put yourself on ask.fm, or qooh.me as you were “pretty much opening yourself up to potential ridicule”. Many kids are able have a better understanding of just how much to take from these online interactions. They know what to take or leave and are able to move on. But for those that base their very worth on the digital persona they put forward, the consequences can be far more destructive.
And is seems there are still millions of kids that are up for the gamble, believing the benefits may outweigh the risks.
We know kids can’t have changed that much in what they want out of life. Adolescents is a challenging time for self esteem and finding your place in the world…particularly amongst your friends and peers. So is it any wonder that they use these apps and social networking sites to help achieve that social standing?
But shouldn’t we as parents be trying harder to equip them with the confidence and self esteem from other areas of their lives so that they feel they don’t need these external sources of lifting them up?
I think we need to keep having these conversations with our kids about separating themselves from their online persona. We need to let them know that there is more to building self esteem, confidence and your place in the world than having some stranger form cyberspace telling you that you are pretty. We need to continue to have boundaries and time limits with their screen time whilst they are young and we have control over what they are doing. We need to continue to encourage pursuits away from the online world and relish these achievements and efforts. We need to continue to nurture and engage positive personal interactions that dont rely on likes and followers.
There is a lot to gain from the communication that takes place online. There is a chance to build this very self esteem, display achievements and get friendship, support and positive reinforcement. But we must be careful not to let this space be the only source of their social worth and standing.
What are your thoughts? Do you think kids are more self absorbed today? Is it just that they have the means? Or should we as parents be doing more?