Juliana came in from school and rushed straight to her room. After 45 minutes of meticulously arranging her hair and make-up she sat in the afternoon sunlight by her window and smiled coquettishly into her smart phone. She spent half an hour posing, snapping pictures, and editing every perceivable flaw. Finally happy with the results, she posted several glowing selfies. Yet the picture-perfect image of her smiling face did not bring her joy. Scrolling through Instagram and reviewing the model-esque, airbrush-edited faces of her friends confirmed her matching beauty, but the quality of her camera app just wouldn’t do. She stomped downstairs that evening and cried petulantly to her parents, “This stupid phone is too old; you should’ve gotten me an upgrade, it’s not fair!”
We would all agree that Juliana sounds like a narcissistic, spoiled brat. Sadly, she is more likely just a typical teenager. Scientists with the University of Milan explored the high incidence of selfies and correlation with increased narcissistic, self-absorbed and selfish behaviors. Even more disturbing, teens are not feeling encouraged and uplifted from the prolific use of social media; quite the opposite. A study published in Preventive Medicine Reports confirmed that screen time and social media use is detrimental to psychosocial outcomes and emotional well-being.
It is not just teenagers who fall prey to this be allure of self-aggrandizing social media posting. Young adults are equally as likely to fall into this visual trap, striving for elusive and false beauty. The quandary is of course that age old question – which came first, the chicken or the egg? Does increased posting of selfies create narcissism? Or do you people with narcissistic tendencies post more selfies? According to the conclusion published in The Open Psychology Journal, “These results suggest that problematic internet use may serve to discharge narcissistic personality traits for those who use social media in a visual way, but not for those who do not engage in that form of internet use.”
Either way, the posting of selfies is associated with a harmful psychological outlook and behavior. The best lesson for us all is to vastly reduce time on social media and toss that selfie-stick in the garbage.
By Terissa Michele Miller, MS Psy
Check out the original research:
This article was originally published in Modern Brain Journal.
About the author:
Teri Miller is a mom of nine and child development researcher with a Masters of Science in Psychology. She is a Research Associate at Gibson Institute of Cognitive Research, co-host of the podcast Brainy Moms, and the Managing Editor at Modern Brain Journal.