Should I Worry About The Mental Health Of Selfie Lovers?

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I have been called an old soul on multiple occasions. Sometimes, it is a compliment, which means that I am wiser than my peers. Other times, however, it indicates that I am slow when it comes to technology.

The reason for the latter is that I do not enjoy taking selfies or using social media channels to flaunt them. No offense to anyone, but I cringe at the thought of posing for the camera every day and updating the world about what I am doing, eating, or wearing. Although I love myself, I don’t think I am too important for my Facebook and Instagram friends to want to see multiple selfies from me daily.

Now, my little sister has an opposite view of that. Ever since we gave her the latest iPhone as a reward for doing well in school, we have often seen her holding it up at different angles, taking pictures of herself. Sometimes, when we dine out, she stops us from digging in until all our orders have arrived because she wants to capture them on camera, too. And it has become a bit dreadful to go on trips with her because she feels the need to take 50 or so selfies at every spot in the location.

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Then, once we come home, no one can talk to my little sister for a solid two hours. It is not because she goes to her bedroom and locks herself there; it is because she ignores everyone while trying to pick the best photos to upload on social media. She typically says, “It is a full-time job to try to look good for the camera. You wouldn’t understand it, guys.”

My usual reply to that is, “Finally! We now have something to agree on.” My sister is right – I genuinely do not understand why people waste hours going through and editing photos that contain their faces. It is not as if they are models or professional photographers who get paid to do it. No, they merely love being in front of the camera and perhaps seeing their faces often.

Do I Need To Worry About The Mental Health Of Selfie Lovers?

Since I share a home with a young selfie lover – and my parents are more helpless than me tech-wise – they have tasked me to figure out what is possibly going on in my little sister’s head. My parents even tried to confiscate my sister’s phone once to make her stop – the latter wailed and whined as if she had lost a limb or a loved one. They do not think that her behavior is normal; they worry that taking too many selfies affects her mental health.

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I do not think my little sister will go to a psychologist with me without giving in to the urge to take selfies there, so I have decided to go to the clinic by myself. I laid out everything we found odd about her actions and showed her my sister’s social media pages. 

After browsing her profiles for a few minutes, the psychologist says, “Let me tell you the positive points that I have seen first. For one, your sister does not post photos of herself in skimpy clothes or while posing provocatively. Many teenagers tend to do otherwise when they seek attention or affection from others, especially if they cannot get it at home.”

Relieved, I smile and ask the psychologist to continue. 

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She adds, “Another thing that you may have also noticed is that your little sister hardly uses filters. You told me that she scans too many selfies and merely picks one or two out of them, but she does not deem to alter it too much. Her freckles are still visible; she does not hide her baby fats or wear makeup in some photos. It likely indicates that she posts them because she happy to share them with her friends and family.”

“So, are you saying that there is nothing to worry about now?” I ask.

“Oh no, there still is. Your little sister may have a healthy mind now, but being exposed to social media and taking selfies daily may keep her from making good decisions later. And as you have said, she forgets to interact with you and your parents when she is too focused on her phone. It may eventually form a barrier between you, which is not ideal for any family.”

“What should we do?”

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The psychologist suggests, “You can try talking to your sister about your worries and explain why you want to limit their cellphone usage. Doing so will keep her from being rebellious and acting up. Ideally, she will listen to you and reduce her selfie hours so that you can bond as a family.”

Six Months Later

I shared what the psychologist told me to my parents, and we conducted a little intervention on the same day. Of course, my little sister protested in the beginning, saying that we were taking away her happiness. But I corrected her and said, “You can still take selfies and post them online – that’s okay. However, there will be a cellphone curfew because we miss talking and catching up with you. We haven’t done much of that because of your new hobby.”

As more days passed, my sister found a balance between her life and her love for selfies.