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At First These Teenagers Were Just Taking Selfies, What They Discovered Next Will Shock You…

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First and foremost, please forgive me for the Upworthy-esque title. After seeing continual sharing of articles on my Facebook Feed from the website Upworthy, I decided to give it a try and see if it boosts my reader base. Couldn’t hurt to try…

Last week I attended the playoff game for the Boys’ Basketball Team at the school where I interned. While sitting near the Grade 8 girls who are on my basketball team, I noticed a common trend throughout the game: selfies, selfies, and more selfies. By then end of the basketball game, I feel confident in saying that more time was spent staring into the front-facing camera than watching the court.

During halftime, I decided to ask these girls a few questions about their constant cell phone use. The first thing I asked them was at what age they got their cell phone. They responded by saying that they received their cell phones, all of which were iPhones, in the last several years. Keep in mind that these girls are 13-years-old. When I showed them a picture of my first cell phone at age 13 (shown below which could not send text messages or take pictures), they were appalled. “How did you survive?”, one of them asked. I felt that this was a very interesting question of how normal cell phones are for them.

Motorola Phone

Next, we moved on to the topic of selfies. Selfie, which is now an official word in the dictionary, involves an individual taking their own picture, alone or with friends.

After discussing with these students why they felt it was important to take so many of the same picture over and over again. They claimed that they were “capturing memories.” This then lead us to take an inventory of our phones to see how many selfies we each had in the Photo app. Although I though my four selfies were good enough (evidence below), that amount was nothing compared to theirs which reached into the hundreds.

IMG_3600        IMG_5601          IMG_5792        IMG_5799

I then decided to share with the students a recent article that I came across. This article, posted on CNET, is entitled Are selfies causing the spread of head lice? At first, they all chuckled, and then I witnessed the realization and look of horror cross their faces as they instantly jerked away from one another to create space.

In the article, lice-treatment expert Marcy McQuillan claims that since people taking selfies are putting their heads together to fit it in the frame, this creates the potential from head lice to transfer from one person to the other. Throughout the article, the accuracy of this is contested, but I still feel that it was a very interesting read. The major argument against this claim is that the amount of time that people take to place their heads together for a selfie does not allow sufficient time for the lice transmission to occur.

Overall, I felt that this was another one of those articles that I was instantly drawn to based on the title. This was one of the major reasons that I decided to take the Upworthy route in titling this post. Although this article does not confirm the claim outright, it still provided a very entertaining debate showing the validity of the claim and the possible holes. I found it to be a great way to provide a form of technological propoganda as a joke to these students.

What I would be interested in knowing is if there were any other myths or claims about the harmful effects of technology that readers may have experienced over time.

 

Addendum: The top photo in this post is one of the new photos that have been made public by Getty Images. If you are ever looking for a high-quality stock photos for your posts, create an account on Getty Images and you’ll find a large amount photos available for free to be embedded.

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10 Comments

  1. I had a good laugh reading your post Matt. For one I don’t know if I have ever taken a “selfie” and quite frankly get easily annoyed when I see them all over my Twitter and Facebook feeds so I’m probably biased with my laughter here. However, I thought it was pretty funny that you were able to get the girls thinking a little more about their actions based on something as funny as spreading head lice through taking selfies. It just goes to show how powerful your opinion/guiding questions can be to your students when they see you as an authority figure or at least as someone with an education above the grade 8 level! This is a good “snap shot” of how easily our students can be persuaded to change their beliefs based on such little evidence or fact. Keep up the good work.

    • First, thank you for the comment! This was definitely a great experience in seeing how easily opinions can be swayed, as you said. Second, let’s be honest with each other: We both know you’ve taken at least one selfie before…

  2. kylej988 says:

    I also enjoyed reading this post and had a few laughs throughout as well. Selfies seem to be “new territory” in todays society and although they are just pictures we haven’t really found out the implications of taking an excessive amount of selfies (which is becoming more and more common for teens) and how it affects people’s ego’s and self-confidence. I would be really interested in reading some research on this topic!

  3. beccafroese says:

    Great blog post Matt! Your title had my hooked, I had to read this rest of the article! This is a great technique that I will have to try out! As for the article, I found myself giggling throughout it. I love watching people take “selfies”, especially on snap chat! I often catch my friends snap chatting pictures of themselves in the middle of our conversations without any hesitation, isn’t that sad? I can only imagine what life with technology will be like when those grade eight girls are in University, so many possibilities.

    • I’m glad that my title was able to draw you in so easily! My plan worked perfectly! I’m all for having phones and technology in class, but if I have a student pull out their phone and make a silly face while I am teaching, we’re going to have a problem. SnapChat definitely accelerated the selfie epidemic.

  4. After reading this blog, is it safe to assume that you would not be interested in a shutterBall? An interesting new take on taking selfies! http://www.myshutterball.com/

  5. I think that is so funny that you presented that article to your students about head lice and selfies. I could not even imagine the look on the faces of the students. AS well, that could bring up a great discussion about how fast can lice be transferred. A great step into inquiry based learning for the students. Great post, Matt, thanks for sharing!

  6. […] interest to me, such as my movie review of Her or my conversation with my basketball team about the dangers of selfies and head lice. One goal that I tried to accomplish was to acknowledge all comments being made on my blog posts. […]

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