Life Style

Constant photography affects children and their psyche

Whether selfie or portrait: children are now used to being a constant photo object.


There is a photo on my smartphone that was sent to me and shows the following: a man who grins a bit crazy. His eyes are wide open. He is holding scissors in his hand. The blade is millimeters away from the umbilical cord that connects his newborn child with his wife, whose legs are also (half) visible. The whole thing is a bit scary to me overall.

The man is a good buddy of my friend who is receiving his second son. This is of course an amazing moment. I just wonder: why does father share this incredibly intimate moment with his friends? And, more importantly: Why does he even have the urge at this moment of madness take a picture? Isn’t he thinking of completely different things?

I think the reason for this behavior is fear. A fear that not only my friend has, but all of us, since mankind has had smartphones with camera functions in their pockets almost everywhere. We are afraid of losing beautiful moments forever if we don’t hold onto them. That’s why we photograph and film concerts, New Year’s fireworks, sunsets, sushi – and, best of all, children. In all situations.

“None of this will ever come back!”

Parents, godmothers and friends of parents don’t just think about it at birth. But also when the child has just stuck a piece of sausage in their ear in a particularly cute way. Or when it blows out the candles on its birthday cake. And especially the child’s first few times are a popular photo or film motif: Is the child standing for the first time? Snap. Is it your first time tapping through the apartment? Click. Eating cheese for the first time? Snap. Click. Snap.

“All of this will never come back!” We say to ourselves and somehow that’s true. The only problem is: children of course notice when someone is constantly holding a smartphone in front of their nose and looking at them invitingly. And then they act accordingly. I see this in my friends’ offspring and in children who are related to me. As soon as a camera is pointed at them, they pose.

A few weeks ago
For example, I visited a good friend who was one and a half years old
Daughter has. When I pointed my iPhone at her while she was making pasta
ate, the little one knew exactly what I needed for my photo: she reached into her
Bowl and smeared itself (sweetie) a little pasta sauce in the
fluffy hair. I was delighted.

And then there is a boy related to me, ten years old. He has even developed a whole repertoire of facial expressions and gestures that are used immediately when the person opposite shows him a smartphone. He either holds two fingers under his lower lip in a checker pose, or makes a peace sign, or he looks serious in a very specific, model-like way. It always looks great, never unfavorable. It’s a bit like Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother. His friends are constantly trying to take a picture of him Not looks good. None of them ever succeed.

We change children when we keep taking pictures of them

What does photography do to the psyche of children? A professor of education was once asked that in an interview with the magazine of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. The lady named Jutta Wiesemann replied: “We do not yet know exactly how this constant presentability will affect us, but we know that it will have an impact – on our perception of people and their identity.”

So we change children if we keep taking pictures of them. We teach them to represent themselves very early on. And that’s a shame, because childhood is the only age at which this isn’t necessary. As adults, you will have to constantly sell the best version of yourself, on the job, on dates, with your in-laws. Let’s let them be themselves a little longer as children. Let’s leave her alone. We could start right away at the delivery, one day no Take photo. I am sure the child will thank us later. It really didn’t have a chance at all to properly pose.

Life consists of relationships: with colleagues, with parents, with your partner, with the drug dealer. They are rarely simple, but mostly exciting. In her column “Among others”, Julia Beil deals with everything that is interpersonal once a week. Do you have suggestions for a topic? Then send an email to [email protected] or contact the author via Instagram (_julianita).

This article was published by in February 2020. It has now been reviewed and updated.


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