Why selfie culture sticks

Researcher Kate Derry with Zahli (9), Xavier (11) and Amaya Evitt (8), who will all complete the survey.  Picture: David Baylis        www.communitypix.com.au   d439991
Researcher Kate Derry with Zahli (9), Xavier (11) and Amaya Evitt (8), who will all complete the survey. Picture: David Baylis        www.communitypix.com.au d439991

More than 300 eight to 16-year-olds and their parents have been invited to be part of a UWA study looking at a pervading �look at me� culture and narcissistic environment.

Maida Vale resident PhD student Kate Derry is 27 and halfway through her thesis in the UWA school of psychology.

She said other studies in America and Holland had shown that narcissistic traits could have positive outcomes for students, preventing them from developing eating disorders and offering them resilience against bullying and other negative behaviours.

Ms Derry�s study is believed to be the first in WA and has attracted a lot of interest from other academics and media.

She said she decided to study the phenomenon for her doctorate because narcissism is a personality trait and a large part of Western culture that can be hard to change in adults, but in teenagers there is still time to turn the behaviour around.

�Often the precursors to narcissism come from the parenting � what kind of parenting � and then those changes can be introduced to reverse the process if parents are concerned that children are developing an over-inflated sense of self.�

Ms Derry said it was considered normal for teenagers to display a certain amount of self-idealisation but with social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, perhaps the pendulum had swung too far the other way.

So far her research has concluded parents need to be vigilant in their attempts to raise happy children and not inflate their sense of �self�, and give them confidence to be their own person.

�Narcissism is manifestly different in children to adults and this is what we want to explore in the research,� she said.

Ms Derry said narcissism tended to present in people as a grandiose sense of identity and people focusing on themselves had become increasingly entrenched in Western culture and reinforced in programs which focused on reality television by people who craved fame.

�Social media puts it on display by allowing people to post a pin-up board of selfies or to exchange their thoughts for �likes� and reality television brings us the dream of overnight stardom,� she said.

Interested parents whose teenagers and children would like to be part of the study can contact Ms Derry on and also give their consent at tinyurl.com/SSBParents and a link will be sent for the confidential child survey.

Ms Derry said the online study could be done from home and would take five to 10 minutes for parents to complete and 10 to 15 minutes for children, depending on their reading speed. Mr Derry can be contacted on 0411 811 212.