Last Updated on December 10, 2018

When I was growing up, the camera of choice was the Polaroid.  I took pictures of my gray and white cat Pokie.  I took pictures of my friends, shaking the photo like a fan, waiting for the image to appear out of the black.

But never once did I attempt to point the camera at myself.

Considering the size of the Polaroid at that time, a selfie was virtually impossible.  You needed two hands to hold the camera and press the button.

How times have changed!  Kids and teens use phones with ease to take selfies – lots of them.  More than 90 percent of teens post photos of themselves online.  But all this self-absorption with taking photos comes with a risk.

This may sound ridiculous but did you know that more people die of selfies than shark attacks?  A New York Post article cited dozens of deaths related to tourists taking selfies compared to 8 shark-related deaths during the same time frame.

Now – I know the chance of your child dying while taking a selfie is slim to none.  But the chance of your child being negatively impacted by taking too many selfies is quite high, especially if you have a daughter.

What’s the problem with selfies anyway?

On the downside, selfies can foster greater narcissism.

[verse reference=”Philippians 2:3″]“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. (NKJV)[/verse]

Instead of noticing others in a selfie world, your child can become too focused on getting the best shot, receiving the most likes, and touching up photos to standout.

A 2015 survey of 1,000 young adults showed that millennials spend 7 minutes per selfie.  That seems like a lot of time just to take and edit the “perfect” selfie.  That time could be much better used if your child would just play instead of fiddling with photos.

Your child can look for validation in these selfies.  Are their peers noticing the photos?  Do they like them?

Some teens push the envelope in terms of safety or modesty in order to gain more attention.  Your child may accept a challenge to stand on a tall building or show too much skin in order to get that post-worthy selfie.

As your children grow up into adults, we want them to become like the men and women in 1 Timothy 2:8-10.  Young men who pray, lift up holy hands, without wrath or doubting (v. 8).  Young women who adorn themselves with modest apparel with propriety which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works (v. 9-10).

We want our children to be known for their faith and good works, not their killer selfies.

Yet as your child points the lens to himself or herself over and over, day after day, it reinforces the idea that he or she is the star of the show.  How can our children learn to cultivate humility in this constant landscape of selfies and self-promotion?

As a parent, you must lead the way by example and by providing guidelines.

If your child sees you constantly taking selfies and touching them up before posting, do you think he or she may grow up to do the same?  Parenting is both hard and great because it often pushes us to change ourselves for the better to leave a good example to our kids.

When your child gets to the store, park, or vacation spot, and he or she is more interested in taking selfies than looking around, you know it’s time to make some changes.  It might be time to say, “One selfie only” to capture the moment.  Then put away the phones and be in the moment.  You want your children to make memories and then snap a photo to remember.  You don’t want the whole memory to be about taking the perfect photo.

Help your child avoid the extremes of the selfie-world such as the obsession with being camera ready, touching up for perfection, capturing dangerous activity, and over-sharing.  Talk with your older children and your teens about selfies, asking questions like:

  • Are the selfies you take genuine, reflecting who you really want to be?
  • How do you feel when no one likes your photo?  How much does that matter to you?
  • Where does your value come from?  Is it from your social media accounts or something less fickle?
  • Do you build happy friendships mostly phone-to-phone, or face-to-face?

My 8-year-old daughter Lucy will occasionally grab my phone and take a selfie of herself.  I say occasionally because usually I stop her with “Put my phone down.”

I don’t want Lucy getting accustomed to taking selfies at a young age.  There’s so much more to record and notice all around.

After all, life is much happier and healthier when you put others in the center of the lens, and not yourself.

{Editor’s Note: Arlene just released a new book, Parents Rising – 8 Strategies for Raising Kids Who Love God, Respect Authority and Value What’s Right. Sounds like an opportunity for a great Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gift!}