The Problem with Selfies

GEMS guest post by Arlene Pellicane
May 2020

Surprisingly my daughter Noelle likes all things retro. For her eleventh birthday, she wanted a polaroid camera and typewriter. I’m glad for her old-fashioned tastes. The bigger camera of yesteryear was used mostly to take photos of other people.

The phone of today is mostly used for selfies.

You may wonder, “What’s the big deal? Selfies are cute.”

Absolutely, selfies can be very cute. But the problem can begin when one selfie turns into another and another. Before long, your child (or you) are preoccupied in every new situation to capture the perfect selfie instead of simply participating in the moment.

The lens is focused on us instead of others.

We’re not looking around. We’re looking at ourselves.

We’re not interested in putting others in a good light. We’re engrossed in putting ourselves in a good light.

I googled “how to take a great selfie” and more than 2.5 million results popped up. There were tips galore from “angle the phone slightly down” to “avoid the harsh light of the phone’s flash” to “experiment with your looks to find what’s best.”

One celebrity said she takes 500 selfies before finding one good enough to post. Another article said the average teen takes 12 minutes per selfie, from preparing the shot to editing it.

Do you want your child spending this much time on selfies?

It’s a temptation especially for girls who are trying to project a positive image on social media. I have heard counselors say many of their female teen clients derive their entire self-esteem from social media. If their picture is liked a lot, they feel good about themselves.

If their selfie evokes little response, they feel worthless and not-good-enough.

But we know a child’s value is not found on Snapchat or Instagram. It’s found in the unchanging Word of God which says in Galatians 3:26 that in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.

May our children be like those described in Philippians 2:15, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky…

Shining like stars…what a beautiful picture! When you teach your children to take fewer selfies, and to serve others more instead, they will shine as lights among their peers.

If your daughter isn’t careful, the constant tracking of self often leads to a growing indifference to others. This is part of modern culture, the decline of empathy and the rise of self. Celebrity is promoted and service is demoted.

Society would benefit from less selfies…instead encouraging kids and teens to put down their phones. To spend time cultivating face to face friendships instead of editing selfies for display.

Guess what? We can set the example as adults, not obsessing about taking perfect selfies of ourselves. How many times have our daughters heard us complaining about how we look in a photo? Maybe the next time you want to say something like, “Oh, I look so bad in that photo,” you can stop yourself and say nothing. That’s one small way you can help your daughter be less critical of herself in pictures. After all, our girls are often imitating what they see and hear in us.

You have the power to influence your child to see herself and the world around her in a positive, loving light. You can model empathy in a selfie-world to your kids. We can take less selfies and put others in focus instead. The pictures turn out much better when we’re not alone, but we’re found among friends and family.


Children today are no longer playing hide-and-seek outside or curling up with a good book – instead, they’ve been introduced to a world of constant digital entertainment. While technology has the potential to add value, it can also erode a sense of togetherness and hinder a child’s emotional and social development. In Growing Up Social, Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane provide the necessary tools to make positive changes starting today. Discover how to take back your home from an over-dependence on screens and equip your child to be relationally rich in a digital world.

Meet Arlene

Arlene loves helping people create happy homes to the glory of God. You can connect with Arlene on her website.

© 2020 by Arlene Pellicane. All rights reserved.