A couple of months ago, in one of the many stellar restaurants on SA’s Fleurieu Peninsula, a curly haired two-year-old smiled from her mother’s hip while Mum snapped a few selfies. Once done, the toddler insistently pulled at the phone and they both peered at it for a while before repeating the entire process. I stopped watching then, but I did wonder.
There’s no point in arguing. Selfies are here to stay. Across the world over 93 million selfies are taken each day. But experts warn to take care with tiny evolving minds. From birth to about six years, kids are busily developing self-awareness, getting to know and like their authentic selves. Immoderate degrees of attention to external appearance, on filming and photographing, as is happening a lot now with social media and iPhones, can mess this process up to make them excessively self-conscious. Not only does excessive self-consciousness make kids (and teens and adults) vulnerable to the opinions of others, but it can also make it seriously difficult for them to know who they really are and to like that person.
So, what are parents and grand-parents supposed to do? Experts say it’s all about balance. Filming and photographing our kids should not bring pangs of fear or guilt but neither should it be a major activity. If your toddler acts differently around the camera compared to say, in the playground, it may mean you need to pull back a little on filming and photographing them.
This wasn’t an issue when our son was growing up. I’m happy to say all the young mums and dads I know love taking selfies and videos but they also give their kids ample opportunity to discover who they really are. They allow their kids time in the playground, they read together, and their kids get plenty of interaction time with others. More importantly, they listen to and affirm or discuss their kids’ opinions. Discovering real life and their true self means these little people are sure to grow up with enough self-assurance to laugh any selfie in the face.