“The Selfie Generation”

Yael Eckstein  |  August 7, 2020

Man smiling at his cell phone while he takes a selfie.

The generous will themselves be blessed,
for they share their food with the poor
. — Proverbs 22:9

This month, I’m sharing with you weekly devotions from my book, Generation to Generation: Passing on a Legacy of Faith to Our Children. These devotions are tied to the Jewish principle of tzedakah, charity, and how we teach our children to be generous and giving.

Our children are growing up in what has been dubbed “the selfie generation.” Most photos that kids take these days are of themselves. The accessibility of digital cameras, the ease of taking self-portraits, and the rise of social media have all led to the popularity of “selfies,” the modern-day term for digital self-portraits.

Personally, I take plenty of selfies with the intention of sharing my life in the Holy Land with people of faith around the world. However, as many sociologists have noticed, the word selfie has taken on a meaning that goes far beyond the object of the camera lens. It’s not just in photos that children are often the focus — it can extend into their lives.

The selfie culture turns people’s focus onto themselves — how they look, how many “likes” they get on social media, what kind of clothing they wear, how much fun they have, and so on. What started out as a harmless, fun activity has now been linked to growing rates of depression — and certainly an increase in narcissism.

The great irony, of course, is that focusing on ourselves does not make us happier; rather it robs us of our joy. In contrast, the Bible teaches us about another, more genuine source of joy. Solomon, the wisest man to ever walk the earth, wrote, “he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he” (Proverbs 14:21 NKJV). It is giving to others that truly brings us joy.

The challenge for parents today is teaching our children to take the focus off themselves and turn the camera around so that they can see others. We need to teach our children to see the people around them. First and foremost, this includes their friends, their siblings, their parents, and their teachers. But it extends beyond that to the people they encounter in daily life: the bus driver, the janitor, the widow, the orphan, the homeless person on the street corner.

Only when our children begin to see others’ intrinsic value and suffering can they begin to understand how they can help others.

Your turn:

Download a complimentary sample of my new book, Generation to Generation, at generationbook.org to learn more about passing on our faith to the next generation.