On a recent episode of This American Life, three teen girls ages 13-14 discuss Instagram and how posting selfies impacts their social standing. This episode is more than a little enlightening.
A lot of thought goes into posting selfie-in fact girls check in with their friends before sharing their photo. Depending on the comments made usually in a group chat-they will upload the image and wait.
Comments fly in and within a few minutes they may have 50 or even 100 likes. But it isn’t the number of likes that impacts it is who is saying a comment and there are unwritten rules about what girls say to each other.
One image spirals into a web of connectivity with comments like “OMG you are so pretty”. They even say, “I hate you” which actually can mean they are well liked but hated for being cute.
More than just the comments-it is the proximity of the person to you or to another person that is seen by others. If a photo has comments by someone you are trying to be friends with, a door opens. Or conversely negative comments can really impact how a girl feels.
Enter the self-doubt messaging girls and women hear in their heads. A girl could have 100 likes and comments and only one negative post and it is that one she focuses on and thinks about.
Sound familiar? Women often do the same thing-praise from co-workers can be all but erased when a boss makes a public criticism.
3 Things to know about the selfie posting ritual:
- Words aren’t always cute. Parents should not dismiss the activity as confusing or something “kids just do today”.
- Help her to be strong: Make sure your daughter is balanced in what she posts and how she feels when she reads comments.
- Instagram comments create a “social diagram” for girls to know who are their friends, who is their best friend commenting on and even though they know it is superficial they believe it demonstrates relevance.
So Moms, what can we do? Social media is instantaneous and lasts forever. The best plan is to discuss with your daughter her actions, what her friends do and how they feel.
How does your daughter post selfies on Instagram? Share with us your thoughts on Facebook, we love hearing from you!