Why parents should worry about girls’ perfect selfies

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden holds a phone while taking selfies with supporters during a campaign event Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Marion, Iowa. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

New York: Parents, please take note. Researchers have recently found that adolescent girls who invest a lot of time in editing and selecting the perfect selfie may feel more body shame and appearance anxiety.

Published in the Journal of Children and Media, the research showed that when adolescent girls spend too much time agonising over which photo of themselves to post, or rely heavily on editing apps to alter their images, there may be a cause for concern.

The study found that selfie editing and time invested in creating and selecting the perfect one, were both related to self-objectification, which led to body shame, appearance anxiety and more negative appearance evaluations in teen girls.

“Our main finding was that we really shouldn’t be too worried about kids who take selfies and share them; that’s not where the negative effects come from. It’s the investment and the editing that yielded negative effects,” said senior study author Jennifer Stevens Aubrey from University of Arizona in the US.

“Selfie editing and selfie investment predicted self-objectification, and girls who self-objectify were more likely to feel shameful about their bodies or anxious about their appearance,” Aubrey added.

The findings were based on a study of 278 teenage girls, ages 14 to 17.

The teens completed an online survey in which they answered questions about how often they share selfies on social media and how often they use specific photo editing techniques, such as reducing red eye or using an app to smooth their skin or make them appear thinner.

They also responded to a series of statements designed to measure how much time and effort they spend selecting which selfies to share on social media – what researchers referred to in the paper as their level of “selfie investment.”

In addition, the girls completed a series of questionnaires designed to measure their levels of self-objectification and appearance concerns.

The researchers said they chose to focus on adolescent girls because they are especially vulnerable to self-objectification.

Girls also are more likely than boys to experience negative consequences, such as body image issues, as the result of self-objectification, which can in turn lead to problems like depression and eating disorders, the researchers said.

“Self-objectification is the pathway to so many things in adolescence that we want to prevent,” Aubrey said.

The researchers said parents and caregivers of adolescent girls should be aware of red flags on teens’ phones, such as selfie editing apps or camera rolls teeming with selfies.

If a teen seems to be selfie-obsessed, it might be time for a talk, they added.