Snap Back from Social Media Obsession
SNAP BACK FROM SOCIAL MEDIA OBSESSION
By Jen Napper | MAMFC, ALC
Welcome to the age of the selfie. The word selfie has become a household word for most families with the rise of the smartphone and social media usage. In 2013, selfie had become so commonly used that the Oxford English Dictionary chose to give it the “Word of the Year” title.
For those of you who are not familiar with this term, a selfie is a photo that a person takes of him or herself using a smartphone or a webcam to use and share on social media. The art of taking the perfect selfie might take some time and some editing magic. Most of the popular social media outlets allow its users to edit their photos by selecting filters that change lighting and colors and use other enhancements. These filters can help to create the picture-perfect selfie.
THE RISE OF SNAPCHAT
One of the most popular editing apps that takes ordinary selfies to the next level of transformation is Snapchat. Snapchat is a social media outlet, and one of its main features allows individuals to express themselves in a picture or video for brief moments—usually 10 seconds or less. After a recipient views a sent photo, the photo is automatically deleted and cannot be viewed again.
Users also have access to much photo editing using different filters to give your selfie puppy, teddy bear, or bunny ears, a floral or sparkly crown, smoother skin, bigger eyes, and other funny, silly facial distortions. With all its editing entertainment, Snapchat has attracted over 180 million users worldwide.
For users to have all these editing tools and filters to choose from, taking just one selfie almost never seems to be enough. Plus, with having the most beautiful, most artistic, or funniest photos, users are likely to get lots of “likes” and positive feedback, which also leads to more social media friends or followers. It is easy to see how quickly people can become obsessed with their looks, their status, their number of likes and followers. Some people even start liking how they look more with a Snapchat filter than how they look in real life.
THE RIVAL OF REALITY
In August of 2018, an article was published in The Washington Post by Allyson Chiu entitled, Patients are desperate to resemble their doctored selfies. Plastic surgeons alarmed by ‘Snapchat dysmorphia.’ This new diagnosis of Snapchat dysmorphia is given when someone takes a filtered photo from Snapchat (or other photo editing apps) to plastic surgeons and expresses the desire to look more like their unrealistic selfie photo. Chiu sites an article from The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and explains that experts are worried about the negative effects this could have on people’s self-esteem.
There are also concerns of potentially triggering body dysmorphic disorder which is a mental illness classified on the obsessive-compulsive spectrum. When people are comparing themselves to something that is not real, they tend to confuse reality and fantasy. These unrealistic selfies set people up for discontentment and low self-worth because they are constantly comparing themselves to other distorted pictures of themselves and other people that are not real. Comparison really is the enemy of contentment.
THE TRUTH ABOUT VALUE
As Christians, we should daily be reminded of God’s truth and examine our hearts to make sure that we are finding our worth and value in Christ alone. From Psalms 139:13–14, we know that God created us, and we are fearfully and wonderfully made. This is especially important for our children to know and believe because they are surrounded by a world obsessed with the worship of self.
Christian parents need to set an example for their children by pointing them to Jesus to meet their every need for approval and love. Remind them continually that their worth and identity come from Christ and not their peers or their social media status.
SOCIAL MEDIA STEPS FOR PARENTS
Christian parents need to be more informed of the dangers of social media that are creeping into their homes. Setting time limits and boundaries on social media is a great way to start protecting your family. Parents can start this by spending less time on their own devices and modeling boundaries for their family. Aimless scrolling for hours on end can lead to isolation and less face-to-face contact. It is also a good idea to get your family to take a break at times from using social media for a day or a week if needed.
In addition, the following are also good tips to consider for navigating social media with your child:
Have access to your children’s account passwords/settings.
Know about each app on your child’s device and do your own research if you’re unsure or unfamiliar with one.
Be aware of who your kids are following on Snapchat and on other social media outlets.
Know the kind of material your child might view or send. Snapchat is a great place to get away with sending inappropriate pictures.
When unmonitored, the Snapchat Map (Snap Map) can make kids an easy target for predators since the user’s location can be detected by others who use the app. Changing your map settings or turning off location settings for this app or others is an option to keep in mind.
Check your child’s direct messages (DM’s) to make sure conversations are appropriate and safe.
BACK TO WHAT IS REAL AND TRUE
Christians are called to be set apart. Romans 12:2 reminds us to not conform to the ways of the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. As you are transformed with God’s truth and your identity in Christ grows, it really frees you up to be who God created you to be—as an original with no filter needed. Having God’s approval and love satisfies the deepest longings of our hearts.