Today’s teens are often referred to as the “me” generation, since it seems as though narcissism is a strong trend throughout the self-absorbed Millennials.
In this digital age, one would find a trend throughout the social media sites: Teens self-absorbed to the extreme. While teens have always been concerned with their image, the presence of social media has increased the vanity trend to an extent that parents and older generations never experienced. Are teens in the 21st century really that much more narcissistic, or is it simply the environment that is creating so many troubled teens?
Narcissism in Teens
According to the Mayo Clinic, narcissism is a mental disorder characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, having a deep need for admiration, and having a lack of a empathy toward others. Usually, however, this egotistical behavior masks a fragile self-esteem that is vulnerable to even the slightest bit of criticism. Before the advent of social media trends, teens relied on their parents and peers for sources of admiration. However, with this being the digital age, things are quite different. The culture that social media perpetuates breeds a generation of self-absorbed teens, encouraging vanity and narcissism in an entirely new way. Is it really bad, though?
In moderation, no. However, the growing trend of taking “selfies” or otherwise posting photos on social media has been linked to mental health conditions that focus on a person’s obsession with their looks. They need that approval from others in order to feel good about themselves, which is a result of the low self-esteem that is linked to narcissism. In fact, many psychiatrists feel that these behaviors could lead to mental health problems in the future, especially those related to a lack of confidence. According to Psychiatrist Dr. David Veal, two out of three of his patients with Body Dysmorphic Disorder that have seen him since the rise of camera phones have actual compulsions to repeatedly take selfies. There have been documented cases of addictions related to taking selfies, and in getting “likes” on various social media profiles, such as Instagram and Facebook.
As a condition which focuses on an extreme preoccupation with their body image, and a strong desire for admiration from others – even strangers - Millennials who struggle with this exhibit numerous signs of behavioral and psychological issues. However, since teens all have different degrees of self-absorption.
So how do you know if your teen needs help?