The Selfie Generation’s Self-Image Struggle

The Selfie Generation's Self Image Struggle
Kids are growing up in selfie culture. To fit in, they are expected to post a selfie before, during and after every activity. They then watch closely for the resulting likes, thumbs-up and other ratings to tally.
It’s a great way to share experiences and memories. The downside? It can turn into a self-image measurement. It affects how kids view themselves. Recent studies show that…
  • 35 percent are worried about people tagging them in unattractive photos.
  • 27 percent feel stressed about how they look in posted photos.
  • 22 percent felt bad about themselves if their photos were ignored.

Here are a few examples of the selfie culture kids are growing up in:

Instagram
The number of followers, likes and emojis kids can collect gets competitive, with users often begging for them. Instagram “beauty pageants” and other photo-comparison activities crop up, with losers earning a big red X on their pics.
Snapchat
Numerical scores display the total number of sent and received chats. You can view your friends’ scores to keep tabs on who’s racking up the most views.
Hot or Not
This quintessential rating app lets you judge the attractiveness of others based on a series of photos, tapping either a heart sign or an X to to rank them. Users log in to see what others think of them.
#tbh
When Instagram users type “#tbh,” they’re indicating either that they want others to honestly appraise their selfies or they’re expressing their true feelings about someone else’s looks. Examples: “#tbh am I pretty?” or “#tbh I think you’re really pretty.” Although #tbh is usually positive, it can get negative in specific and hurtful ways, and even when it stays positive, it reinforces the idea that appearance is what matters most.
YouTube—”Am I pretty or ugly?”
Kids—mostly girls—post videos of themselves asking if other users think they’re pretty or ugly. These videos are typically public, allowing anyone—from kids at school to random strangers—to post a comment.
Social media tools can be very influential in a kid’s view of themselves. While it can bolster self-esteem, it can also hurt it. It is critical that we help the selfie generation navigate through this struggle.
Help kids discover the foundation of their self-image. We must teach kids that their self-image is based not on how others see them on social media, but on how God sees them. When we help them see that who they are in Christ is more important than what they look like, it will give them sustaining confidence, even when they get a thumbs down on social media.
Provide caring volunteer leaders. Volunteers who care about kids have an enormous effect on them. Challenge volunteers to invest in the kids and speak words of life and encouragement into their lives. Of course, the primary adults who mold a child’s self-esteem is his or her parents, but kids also need another adult besides their parents to invest in them.
Teach kids to be leaders. Kids can make a positive impact when they lead the way in posting constructive comments about others on social media.
Help them see the true picture. Kids often compare themselves to the media images of celebrities and models. But they may not understand that these images are often retouched and enhanced. Yes, the people may be attractive, but it is not real life and not a standard by which they should compare themselves.
As the kids in your ministry face the challenges of growing up in a selfie generation, God wants to use you and your team to give them a true picture of who they are in Christ.
This article originally appeared here.
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Dale Hudson
Dale Hudson has served in children and family ministry for over 27 years. He is the Founder and Director of Relevant Children’s Ministries which provides resources and coaching for churches. He has been named one of the Top 20 Influencers in Children’s Ministry. He is the co-author of six ministry books, including If Disney Ran Your Children’s Ministry.