Expert warns against encouraging kids to take selfies and become involved with social media

A leading child psychologist has warned against encouraging young children to take selfies, because it can warp their sense of reality and self image.

Elie Godsi, a consultant clinical psychologist, therapist and author, told the Daily Mail Online that allowing your children to appear in your selfies (or take their own) will stop them from being able to enjoy real experiences, except through a lens.

Pushing for a shift back to traditional childhoods, Elie encouraged parents to get their youngsters outdoors and to ban selfie sticks and technology from family outings. Playing in the garden or on the street with other children, he said, was imperative to combatting the sedentary world of mobile phones, computers and TV screens.

‘In my opinion, selfies should not be encouraged,’ he said.

‘Leave technology at home. When you go out as a family leave mobile devices switched off and have a rule that says no mobile phones during family meal times.’

Genuine fun and communication with other children means healthy development for young people, rather than ‘pretending’ to have fun and being taught from a young age that social media is more important than real life.

In addition to this, he pointed to the worrying trend of ‘helicopter parents’ who monitor all their children’s activity by stalking them on social media. This, he says, can also limit social development and independence.

‘Mobile phones can become an unhealthy psychological umbilical cord between parents and their children,’ he said. ‘A balance must be struck between a child’s safety and their autonomy.’

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‘For example, when a child experiences something out-of-the-ordinary being able to phone someone immediately denies them an opportunity to learn to process new experiences for themselves, at least until they get home.’

The comments come following the results of a survey of 2,000 families undertaken by the outdoor education provider, Kingswood, which found that the most prevalent ‘family bonding’ is watching TV together.

Sixty-eight per cent cited this as their main activity shared with children, followed by going to the cinema (35 per cent) and playing computer games (24 per cent).