Q&A: Selfies can lead to dangerous situation for teens

Q:  What’s the best way to teach my 13-year-old daughter the importance of taking and posting safe selfies? She and her friends are going overboard with the posing and posting part.

From the mailbag:

I am a 21-year-old female that had my life destroyed with the backstabbing and cyber bullying that took over my entire waking hours since I was 13. There were very few apps for my parents to monitor my activity at the time. It took everything in my soul not to commit suicide, and by the grace of God, my doctor and family support I was able to pull out of this. Today, it’s even worse, and I feel there are no safe selfies. Research the internet for true stories and articles of young girls whose lives have been destroyed and share them with your daughter. Get an app that will help you monitor what she is doing and where. Take this very seriously. — R.R. in San Antonio


It’s become a part of the norm for teenagers to take selfies, some of which are inappropriately provocative or even feature nudity. Social media has made it far too easy for people to mess up their lives, many without even knowing it until perhaps the hate and shaming starts coming in from strangers and even people at their own school.

One of the reasons for this is that it is quite easy to open up accounts on various platforms under fake names so that when a parent searches, their child’s name won’t appear. It can get to be a kind of competition among people to post a picture and then sit back and see who gets the most likes and comments. And, thanks to the Kardashians and many other well-known celebrities, girls know exactly how to get the best “sexy” or “seductive” selfie pose.

There are many apps that can be used to post or send selfies as well as ones where the pictures disappear in a matter of seconds, unless someone knows how to save them. But one just never knows where they may end up. The scary part is that an innocent picture can be photoshopped, saved, sent to others and posted across the world wide web without the consent of the person in the photo. In the end, it’s the individual who sent it out in the first place that is penalized and not the one who is sharing it with others.

Your best bet is to do research on the internet for the optimal way to monitor her online activity. She will not have knowledge of it and of course, you will have to monitor it frequently, perhaps even hourly depending on the severity of the issue. It will take a good part of your time but it will definitely be worth it in the end. Ultimately, though, while this is something to be concerned about, as long as you arm yourself with the proper tools and keep yourself informed on the topic, you’ll conquer this parenting challenge like any other.


My daughter is a senior and still has not decided what she wants to do after graduation. We’d like for her to attend a four-year college but fear it’s now too late. She does frequently mention the Army but will not make a commitment to anything. What should we be doing at this late date to encourage her to make a decision about her future?

 To share parenting tips or submit questions, write to: Parent to Parent, 2464 Taylor Road, Suite 131, Wildwood, MO 63040. Email [email protected], or go to  parenttoparent.com which provides a secure and easy way to submit tips or questions. All tips must have city, state and first and last name or initials to be included in the column.

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