MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – There is a fine line between selfies and self-absorption, but are we raising our kids to be narcissists? WCCO-TV found what experts say we should be teaching at home.
We found a group of teenagers at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and asked to see how many selfies they take. Three girls admitted to snapping at least 10 a day.
“I mean, you always take a selfie when you think you look cute,” Tamia said.
But do selfie sessions equate to narcissism? Dr. Katie Holter, a therapist at Minnetonka Counseling, cautions against the damage such a label can do.
“First, I think it’s important to understand what narcissism is,” Dr. Holter said.
She points out that narcissism is a personality trait on a spectrum where researchers have identified some key characteristics.
“They include things like arrogance, superficiality, feeling superior, being more prone to aggression, needing constant admiration,” she said.
Since it plays a part with our personality, Holter reminds us that our personalities develop into our 20s.
“As we age, we forget what it was like to be an adolescent or young adult,” Holter said.
Think back, and she says we were likely self-absorbed then, too.
“Our main goal is figuring out who we are and connecting specifically with our peers and our social group. That becomes our priority,” she said.
What role does social media play? Holter says at this point, that’s up for debate. Research shows Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook don’t cause a narcissistic disorder, but those same studies suggest if someone already has it, these mediums make it worse.
“The one thing research is showing is individuals with narcissistic personality traits do use social media slightly different than others,” Holter said.
Narcissists may use it more, have a lot of followers and self-promote perhaps more than anything else. They take more selfies and wider body photos than others.
“But before you start scrolling through your Facebook friends or criticizing your own Facebook use, it’s important to note that that in and of itself is not an indication of narcissistic personality disorder traits,” Holter said.
Holter says the most telling narcissistic characteristic is the one that’s missing – empathy.
“Empathy is our ability to understand and experience the feelings of another person,” Holter said.
It’s what she says parents, teachers and coaches should focus on most – showing compassion for other people and flipping the lens to see what’s missing on the other side.
Holter says if people want to explore these areas in more depth, it’s best to contact a mental health provider. To learn more about narcissism and empathy, visit Minnetonka Counseling’s website.