A Parent's Guide to Celebrating National Selfie Day with Your Children

a teen takes a selfie of herself with her mom
Summer is about more than a change of season, it's about a change of pace. It's time to re-evaluate priorities, inject fun, and make memories. If you're a parent and you've done all the memory making you can come up with, jump into your children's world for inspiration, taking your cues from National Selfie Day, always on June 21. 

Stop! I Need to Take a Selfie!

We adults tend to poo-poo the lowly selfie. We've grown weary of pouty lips and duck faces. I'm not going to argue for selfies. I am going to challenge you to think outside the box and focus on the relationship with your children, tweens, and teens. After all, isn't that one of the reasons you're homeschooling? You can do this, mom. So grab your kids and a smartphone and prepare to make some memories.

And before you think of yourself as incredibly cool and forward thinking, know that it was back in 2013 when the word selfie was announced the word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary. Some of us homeschool parents have some catching up to do if we aren't using selfies yet! 

Learn the Art of a Good Selfie

The first rule of selfies is that there's no such thing as a bad selfie. The entire idea is to capture a moment of impromptu fun and spontaneity. So, for our purpose (which is fun and relationship), here are basic guidelines. The rules are really up to you.

  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If it makes your kid laugh at you (allowed!) or exclaim, "You look great!" then it's a keeper.
  • R-E-S-P-E-C-T When and if the camera is used to snap a quick shot of any other individual, it must be done tastefully and respectfully. No shaming of any type. The camera and all selfies will be used in a way that doesn't infringe on the experience of others. In other words, wait until you've finished your purchase at the check-out and have moved aside to snap a selfie.
  • Filters are for fun. Bunny noses, silly voices, and falling sparkles all make a selfie special. Roll with it.
  • While there are no bad selfies, always get permission before posting a group selfie on social media. If someone in the photo hates her pic, it can be humiliating to have it posted publicly. So ask first. 

Selfies as Education

Okay, we've established the general rules of fun and engagement for a selfie. Now, let's chat about why selfies make for a great educational tool. Firstly, if you're visiting a museum or art gallery over the summer, unless your kiddo is really into these things, you need an angle to get your kids involved. Selfies can be the trick!  

Create a fun scavenger hunt to encourage your student to take selfies in a museum with paintings, art, or sculpture indicated on a list you create in advance. You can also just turn them lose in the museum and ask for selfies as proof of a learning experience. Thier selfies can express their feelilngs about the art, or they can somehow try to recreate what they see in their selfie, maybe matching the composition with their own body language. It is summer, after all! Lighten up on the written assignments and let them experience the museum selfie-style.

Secondly, tap into their self-focused nature at this age by asking them to document their emotions. The assignment is to take at least one daily selfie that documents their attitude for the day. Be prepared for a lot of bored, tired, and silly selfies. If you combine this with some informal journaling, you've covered writing, too! Then instead of the What I Did This Summer essay, your teen can compose an introspective piece about How I Felt This Summer, tying together the daily photo journal into an insightful composition.

Lastly, let your teen take the driver's seat and teach you how to selfie. This should probably be an informal, on-the-fly type of lesson. They will enjoy switching roles to be your teacher for a change. Let your teen choose which selfie you should post on social media, and then do it!

Selfies as Summer Memory Recorders

SelfiesOh! The places you'll go, right? Selfies can be a fun way to capture all of your vacation travels. They are true story tellers. Of course, always refer to the rules and art of a good selfie. But bottomline: have fun.

Compare selfies when the travels are over. Did you and your teen have the same impression of the vacation? Did you learn anything about your teen you might not have noticed before? Don't force the conversation, but as seems natural, dialogue openly with your teen.

Selfies as Eyes to the Soul

I've encouraged you to keep things light and fun and enjoy your children by using selfies. But, we do live in a world of constant comparison. So, while learning the ropes of selfies, pay attention for signs that your tween might struggle with image issues and make a plan to address those when you feel it's important.

Teenagers applying for jobs and college admissions need to be aware that their social media profiles are scanned by interviewers. What do their selfies say? Have them look at their own social media accounts with an objective eye to consider if the entirety of their profiles say what they want them to say, including these visual autobiographies we call selfies!

Encourage the selfie that is part of a group or an experience versus the one made in isolation. To date, science can't make up its mind regarding selfies and self-esteem. Are they good or bad for self image? It's up to parents to stand in the gap and be attune to problems that might spring up. Some signs include:

  • frequent selfie-taking and viewing that tends to obsession
  • taking and retaking of selfies to get that perfect look
  • talk of comparison with other teens in a derogatory way
  • expressing more than normal disappointment with their appearance 
  • any sign of depression or anxiety

In a word, selfies are meant to be fun. it's true they can be an expression of self-absorption. But they can also be a tool for good, for making memories, and, yes, even for education. It's important to express to our children that they are empowered to choose how to celebrate National Selfie Day on June 21 and every day of the year.

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