“Selfitis” is the new term for obsessively taking selfies and it’s being called a symptom of other, more serious, mental disorders. The study by Nottingham Trent University was held in India because of their high population and social media user numbers. Also, because of the high number of deaths caused by taking selfies in a dangerous situation. Researchers studied a focus group of 200 people and asked them questions about their selfie-taking behavior. The results had some surprises and some expected outcomes. The most likely candidates to have selfitis were men, which was unexpected, but as you may have guessed, the youngest group also scored the highest probability to suffer from the disorder.
The idea for this study came from news stories in 2014 about selfitis becoming a recognized mental disorder. At the time these stories were false but now the term is beginning to get scientific research to back it up. The researchers’ findings are, probably, only the beginning of the information we will get about what our increasingly online lives are doing to our habits and mental condition.
“Typically, those with the condition suffer from a lack of self-confidence and are seeking to ‘fit in’ with those around them and may display symptoms similar to other potentially addictive behaviors,” – Dr. Janarthanan Balakrishnan
What Parents Should Know
It’s obvious how the appeal of Instagram likes and Twitter followers can lead to obsessive behavior. This condition falls under the same category as internet, video game, and media addictions and its actual diagnosability is debatable in some psychological circles. My unprofessional but educated opinion is that anything that becomes obsessive and compulsive should be considered dangerous by parents. It can take conscious effort for many of us to avoid taking a photo or selfie to share during an event. I have often made the distinct decision to not take a photo and just enjoy a moment for myself. The study of selfitis shows that there are increasingly more people out there who cannot make that decision for themselves. The first thing they think about is what a good social media post this moment would make and then they can’t deny themselves the opportunity to share it online and see how many likes it gets.
Selfitis and other social media related conditions will always be ridiculed because it seems like just making a decision to stop something would solve the problem. Serious professionals, however, are giving these behaviors real attention and I think we, especially parents, should too. Find out what your child’s attitude is about social media. Why do they post? How important is it to them to get likes and followers? Do they take down photos if they don’t get the amount of attention they want them to? Knowing your child’s online and social media habits can go a long way to help them have a healthy attitude towards how they represent themselves online. Mom and dad are the first line of defense and diagnosis. You should be having conversations with your kids.
You can see the entire study HERE. Including the questions asked to those tested in the study. Maybe you can use these questions (also listed below) to see what your kids think about their selfie habits…or your own.
Selfitis Behavior Scale
1. Taking selfies gives me a good feeling to better enjoy my environment
2. Sharing my selfies creates healthy competition with my friends and colleagues
3. I gain enormous attention by sharing my selfies on social media
4. I am able to reduce my stress level by taking selfies
5. I feel confident when I take a selfie
6. I gain more acceptance among my peer group when I take selfie and share it on social media
7. I am able to express myself more in my environment through selfies
8. Taking different selfie poses helps increase my social status
9. I feel more popular when I post my selfies on social media
10. Taking more selfies improves my mood and makes me feel happy
11. I become more positive about myself when I take selfies
12. I become a strong member of my peer group through selfie postings
13. Taking selfies provides better memories about the occasion and the experience
14. I post frequent selfies to get more ‘likes’ and comments on social media
15. By posting selfies, I expect my friends to appraise me
16. Taking selfies instantly modifies my mood
17. I take more selfies and look at them privately to increase my confidence
18. When I don’t take selfies, I feel detached from my peer group
19. I take selfies as trophies for future memories
20. I use photo editing tools to enhance my selfie to look better than others
Scoring: Responses are rated on a 5-point Likert scale: (5 = strongly agree; 4 = Agree; 3 = Neither Agree or Disagree; 2 = Disagree; 1 = Strongly Disagree). Scores are summed. The higher the score, the greater the likelihood of selfitis
Items 1, 7, 13, and 19 relate to environmental enhancement – Items 2, 8, 14 and 20 relate to social competition – Items 3, 9, and 15 relate to attention seeking – Items 4, 10, and 16 relate to mood modification – Items 5, 11, and 17 relate to self-confidence Items 6, 12, and 18 relate to subjective conformity