Bengaluru: Digital media these days has become an integral part of the life of teens and in their zeal to keep their social media profiles ‘cool and happening’, taking frequent selfies and posting them on social media platforms has become an obsession.
This compulsive urge to take selfies may appear harmless, but it could have an adverse effect on their self esteem and even health.
"Many parents are complaining of rising level of addiction to selfies among youth, especially teenagers. This condition of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) of clicking selfies is widely known as ‘selfitis’,” said Dr Roshan Jain, Consultant Psychiatrist at Apollo Hospitals Bannerghata Road.
According to a new study published by The Journal of Early Adolescence, teens who post more selfies online tend to have an increased awareness of their own appearance and that is linked to an increased risk of negative body image.
Dr Bupendra Chaudhry, Consultant Psychiatrist, Manipal Hospitals, said, “People get more conscious of their appearance when they get immediate feedback on pictures. That's become a driving force of their activities, with studies and sports taking a backseat. Following the same, narcissistic traits may get reinforced. Depression and anxiety can also get precipitated.”
A Common Sense Media Report also found that teen girls worry more about how they are perceived online, how they look in the photos they have posted, while majority of them feel worse about themselves when hit by ignorance.
Dr Roshan also said that people with selfitis feel compelled to continuously post their pictures online.
American Psychiatrist Association classifies ‘selfitis behaviour’ as a genuine mental ‘illness’. Typically, those with the condition suffer from a lack of self-confidence and are seeking to ‘fit in’ with those around them.
“Chronic selfitis is the final level of selfitis where there is an uncontrollable urge to take photos of one’s self round the clock and posting them on social media more than six times a day,” said Dr Roshan.
Experts suggest that parents and schools should keep a regular tab on phone usage by teens; the thin line between the optimum use for work and learning and to kill the time must be sensitized among kids.
They should be engaged in activities outside the digital world. Regular checks and counselling would help teens prone to selfitis.